Dragonair of Hong Kong is to increase its fleet of Airbus A320s and A330s to expand the airline's regional service and take advantage of recently approved new routes into China.

The airline has placed orders for two International Aero Engines V2500-A5-powered A320s and concluded the lease for a fifth Rolls-Royce Trent 700-powered A330-300 from International Lease Finance (ILFC). The deal with Airbus includes options on a further five A320s.

The two firmly ordered A320s are scheduled for delivery in late 1998 and 1999, while the new A330 will enter service in June 1997. The aircraft will supplement Dragonair's seven A320s, all on ten-year leases from ILFC.

No decision has been taken on whether to keep the airline's leased A320s or exercise early-break clauses and replace the 150-seat twinjets with additional new-build aircraft now on option. All but one of Dragonair's four A330s are also leased from ILFC. Dragonair's expansion follows the start of services to Koahsiung in Taiwan and to main land China. The airline has increased services to Xian and Chengdu, launched a route to Tsingtao and plans to begin flying to Chongqing from December. Two other new destinations in China under consideration are Urumqi and Shantou.

Sichuan Airlines, meanwhile, is seeking approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to lease four A320s from ILFC. It is understood that the Chengdu-based airline has so far been given permission to add only one more A320 to its three in service. Other Chinese carriers are also increasing their fleets with Boeing 737-300s. General Electric Capital Aviation Services is to lease two more 737s to China Xinhua Airlines, two extra aircraft to Yunnan Airlines and two to China General Aviation.


Source: Flight International