Taiwanese flag carrier China Airlines (CAL) is unlikely to commit to either the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8I for the near future.

"Our financial situation cannot support a plan to order this kind of airplane," says CAL chairman Philip Wei.

As a result, in the near term, CAL plans to lease more Airbus A330s and upgrade its Boeing 747-400s, he adds.

Although the carrier expects to return to the black this year, it has made heavy losses over the past two years. The majority state-owned airline also went to its shareholders to raise capital in 2009 and will do so again this year.

CAL will begin taking delivery of the first of an order for l4 A350-900s in 2015 and there are no plans to order any further new aircraft up to that point, said Wei.

"However, we will lease some A330-300s before that and invest in a renovation of our 747-400s," he said.

 © AirTeamImages/Andrew Hunt
A China Airlines A330-300 takes off from Singapore's Changi Airport

The first A330 will arrive at the end of October. It is a new aircraft in two-class configuration on a 10-year lease from Guggenheim Aviation, said Wei. "We are also looking to lease another two or three A330s for delivery in 2011 and 2012," he said.

CAL will begin installing its latest interior design in nine of its 747-400s in a year-long refurbishment programme from March 2011, said HH Sun, CAL's president. The work will be carried out at CAL's maintenance facility in Taipei. The airline's fleet of six A340-300s will be retained.

"We will still keep the A340s for our long-haul non-stop services," said Wei. "They will remain until we have enough A350s to replace them."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news