China Airlines is close to the selection of a twin-engined widebody aircraft to replace some of its ageing and fuel-hungry Boeing 747-400s.
The Taiwanese carrier has been assessing the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-300ER, and will make its decision before the end of 2012, says the airline's president HH Sun.
"We want to move on this important decision and will make it this year as we need to plan for the aircraft," he says.
While the SkyTeam alliance member has 13 747-400s, it may not replace all of them with the twin-engined aircraft that it orders this year, he adds.
The airline has orders for 14 Airbus A350-900s, which are due to be delivered from 2016, and options for another six more. It can also convert some of those to the -1000 variant, says Sun. The -900 variants will be used to replace its Airbus A340-300s and grow capacity.
"We believe that there may be a need to keep some of the 747s in our fleet, especially if there is demand on some of the routes for an aircraft that can carry more passengers. We will make that decision later," says Sun.
China Airlines expects to receive one more Airbus A330-300 in 2013 and one more in 2014 for a total of 24. It will also receive three Boeing 737-800s in 2013 and three in 2014 for a total of 16 of the narrowbody aircraft.