China Eastern Airlines has agreed to purchase 15 Airbus A330 aircraft, and will dispose of five A340-300s.

The SkyTeam carrier's announcement was followed shortly by a statement that it would drop orders for 24 Boeing 787s, and convert them to 45 737s.

China Eastern's 15 A330s will be delivered from 2013 to 2015, said the airline, which did not specify an engine choice for the aircraft.

The carrier stated the listed price of the purchase as $2.53 billion, and plans to use the aircraft to meet increasing demand in its domestic, regional and international medium and long-haul passenger markets.

Along with the A330s order agreement, China Eastern will dispose of five A340-300s. The aircraft will be returned to Airbus in 2012.

The A330s purchase and the A340s disposal will lower the unit operation cost of the airline, said China Eastern. Dropping the A340s would decrease the available tonne kilometres (ATKs) of the airline by about 3.68%, it added, but the A330s purchase would grow ATKs by 9.41%.

China Eastern operates a fleet of 20 A330s comprising 15 -300s and five -200s, Flightglobal's ACAS database shows. All are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news