Carrier to boost capacity do cover expansion ahead of first 787 deliveries in 2008

Shanghai Airlines is seeking to purchase new Boeing 737s and 767-300ERs to aid its expansion ahead of delivery of its first 787s in 2008.

The independent Chinese airline, which is a Star Alliance aspirant, operates an all-Boeing mainline fleet comprising 16 737-700/800s, 11 757-200s and five 767-300/300ERs, as well as five Bombardier CRJ200s. It has been allocated nine of the 60 787s ordered by China earlier this year for delivery from 2008, but has no other passenger aircraft on order for delivery before then. The carrier needs additional aircraft before 2008 because it particularly wants to expand from its Beijing hub, and it has applied for a Guangzhou hub.

"We are considering getting 737s and 767-300ERs before we take the first 787," says Shanghai Airlines chairman and chief executive Zhou Chi. "We need a few 767s," he adds, and the size of the order will depend on "whether the delivery slots match our needs".

Zhou says its "first five 787s will be the [baseline] -8 model and the other four are not decided".

Shanghai Airlines last year gained a foothold in Beijing by buying China United Airlines from the Chinese air force. China United's commercial operations have been shuttered since 2003, but it will restart mid-year, possibly as a low-cost carrier using 737s, says Zhou, who expects China United to have about 10 737s by 2010.

Shanghai Airlines is also hoping the regulations in China will be changed so it, and other carriers around the country, may establish hubs in Guangzhou.

"We want to establish a base in Guangzhou because we want to optimise the route structure and help aircraft to return to Shanghai Pudong International airport," says Zhou, adding that initially Shanghai Airlines plans to have five aircraft based in Guangzhou.

Shanghai Airlines, which has codeshare arrangements with Star Alliance members All Nippon Airways and Lufthansa, is hoping to be approached to formally join the alliance. "At this stage we are just talking with some of the Star partner airlines," says Zhou.


Source: Flight International