Taiwanese carrier Eva Air is in talks with Boeing to acquire an additional seven Boeing 777-300ERs.
The carrier intends to introduce the first three aircraft to its fleet by 2014 and the remaining four by 2016, its chairman James Jeng told reporters at a news conference ahead of its "future member" signing ceremony with Star Alliance in Taipei.
"We are going to acquire another seven 777-300ERs. The reason is simple, we're going to have a visa waiver from the USA that will help us. Also, if we can have mainland China passport holders transit in Taipei, that is going to be a huge traffic growth too," says Austin Cheng, its executive vice-president of the project division.
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Eva intends to add another six Airbus A321s to its existing order for 12 of the aircraft type. These aircraft will all be on lease.
The narrowbodies will replace the 11 MD-90s, which are due to be phased out between 2014 and 2016, and owned by the carrier and its subsidiary Uni Air.
The A321s will mainly be used on cross-strait routes to China and also to Japan, to take advantage of the recent open skies agreement inked between the two countries.
Eva and Uni now operate 105 weekly flights to 25 destinations in China. Cross-strait passenger traffic increased by 70% to 933,534 in 2010 and by 23% to 1.2 million in 2011.
The carrier does not intend to introduce routes to new destinations in China, but rather work on adding frequencies to routes that are in demand such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, says Jeng.
It is also in talks with the government to allow China passport holders to transit in Taipei.
"This is a most important issue and we're going to solve it," he says.
The carrier also plans to increase its capacity to destinations in Japan such as Tokyo, Fukuoka and Chitose by 20%.
Eva will also replace its four Boeing 747-400 Combi aircraft by 2015.
The carrier's plan is to grow its fleet to 100 aircraft by 2014.
Eva now operates a fleet of 59 aircraft comprising 15 Boeing 777-300ERs, 14 Airbus A330s, seven 747s, nine 747 freighters, six MD-90s and eight MD-11 freighters.