China Eastern Airlines is eyeing the Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 767-400ER as potential replacements for its A300-600R fleet, which it may convert to freighters for its China Cargo Airlines subsidiary. China Eastern has also moved to buy Yunnan Airlines, which itself operates 767-300ERs.

The Shanghai-based airline has not yet drawn up a formal request for proposals for replacement aircraft, but Airbus is understood to have presented an unsolicited proposal based around the A330-200. Boeing is continuing to push the -400ER, demonstrated to the carrier last August during a sales tour of China, as it strives to recover its Chinese market share from Airbus.

Sources at China Eastern say it could convert some of its 10 General Electric CF6-80C2-powered A300-600Rs to freighters for China Cargo, which is acquiring five converted China Eastern Boeing MD-11s. Talks have already been held about converting the A300s with EADS' EFW division in Dresden. Conversion of the A300s by EADS Germany could form part of the A330-200 offer.

China Eastern's bid for Yunnan could thwart its anticipated take-over by China Southern Airlines. China Eastern has confirmed the negotiations.

Yunnan operates domestic and international flights. Last week it confirmed an order for eight Bombardier 50-seat CRJ200s.

Source: Flight International