Eva Air prepares for major fleet decisions

Taipei
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Eva Air will make a number of major decisions concerning its fleet within the next two years, says company president Austin Cheng.

In an interview with Flightglobal Pro at the airline's headquarters near Taoyuan International Airport, Cheng says he foresees the airline requiring 10 new narrowbodies by around 2016.

The Taiwanese carrier has four Airbus A321s, which it uses on regional services including those to Japan and secondary Chinese cities, and will add another 14 by end-2015. For its requirements beyond 2015, the carrier is evaluating the Boeing 737 Max and A321neo.

"We believe we'll increase frequency to mainland China, and that we'll need more aircraft. Both the Max and Neo are quite good aircraft. The Neo will make more sense for us since we already have A321s, but you never know. We're evaluating how the Max shows in terms of efficiency," says Cheng.

He also identified the need for around 14 new next generation jets for medium-haul routes that it now serves primarily with Airbus A330s.

"We do have plans to introduce more efficient aircraft like the [Boeing] 787, which we believe is a good aircraft but it takes time to fix some of the problems. We think the 787-10 will be more appropriate for us because they are equipped with more seats, but that's going to be for after 2019," says Cheng, adding that Eva has not ruled out the Airbus A350-900.

Last May, the carrier placed an order for seven Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Three were bought directly from Boeing and another four leased from GECAS. These will gradually replace its Boeing 747-400s used on flights to Europe and North America.

"We're also looking at the 777X. It is going to have more capacity, and better fuel burn efficiency. But it is going to be after 2019, as part of our future plans," says Cheng.

He adds that the average age of Eva's commercial aircraft fleet now stands at 10 years, and should come down to six years by 2015.

Eva Air operates 61 aircraft including A321s, A330s, 777s, 747s and Boeing MD-90s.