China Airlines (CAL) is finally moving forward with narrow-body refleeting, selecting the A321neo to replace 737-800s. CAL plans to introduce 14 leased A321neos from 2021 via unspecified lessors. CAL is still in talks with Airbus to purchase 11 more A321neos with five options.
CAL said in a statement: “After assessing all relevant aircraft features and considering the congestion of neighboring airports in Asia, China Airlines has selected Airbus A321neo as the optimum aircraft for the regional narrow-body operations.”
CAL was said to favour Airbus in a bid to win more French traffic rights so CAL could serve Paris, the hub of SkyTeam partner Air France. EVA Air flies to Paris non-stop from Taipei. There is no mention of additional traffic rights yet.
This is the first narrow-body acquisition since CAL took 777-300ERs and A350-900s with radically new interiors. CAL says “brand new cabin designs will be implemented in the new narrow-body aircraft, including seating configuration and in-flight entertainment system”.
The airline also announced that they have launched the B777 Freighter project, together with its manufacturer Boeing. China Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for three firm and three option aircraft orders. With adding the Boeing 777 Freighter into its cargo-fleet, the airline will replace its older three Boeing 747-400 Freighters. The airline plans to operate these Boeing 777 Freighters to mainly European and North American destinations to meet the growing demand of these markets.