China's Hainan Airlines is preparing a deal for its first Airbus A319s, and the rapidly expanding airline is also looking to add Boeing 737-300 freighters and additional Fairchild Dornier 328JETs to its fleet.

The Hainan southern island province-based airline was identified in April as one of five Chinese airlines to be allocated aircraft from a bulk order with Airbus that was signed by the Chinese government. Hainan is understood to have been allocated eight A319s from the deal, and final pricing negotiations are under way with Airbus.

The airline is also understood to be negotiating the acquisition of "at least five or six" 737-300s now in service with United Airlines. The passenger aircraft would be acquired by a third party, converted into freighters and leased or sold on to Hainan. Cargo carrier Yangtze River Express, a subsidiary of Hainan, operates four 737-300QCs and is seeking to increase its fleet to boost domestic express-freight operations.

Hainan is, meanwhile, in the process of increasing its 328JET fleet, which until manufacturer Fairchild Dornier's bankruptcy, comprised 19 of the type. Hainan has agreed to purchase eight aircraft from line-owner AvCraft and six have now been delivered, many of which are in service with subsidiary airlines. It had planned to acquire 21 more 328JETs from the former Fairchild Dornier but full Chinese government approval was not secured before the company collapsed.

Hainan has expanded rapidly since its establishment in the early 1990s. Its group fleet, including that of several subsidiary carriers, stands at nearly 90 aircraft.

Hainan is thought to be considering an Airbus A330 order within "two or three years", to operate alongside its three Boeing 767-300ERs.

Source: Flight International