Cathay and EVA add passenger airliners, while CAL orders cargo aircraft and SIA sells 747s for use as freighters

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways and Taiwan's EVA Air have placed orders for 13 new passenger aircraft with Airbus and Boeing, as they turn again to growth following last year's SARS-induced downturn. Meanwhile, Taiwan's main carrier China Airlines (CAL) has ordered two more Boeing 747-400 freighters.

The market for conversions of used 747-400s into freighters is also heating up in Asia, with Singapore Airlines (SIA) signing letters of intent to sell eight of its older aircraft to two unidentified carriers. The prospective buyers are believed to be Cathay and Dragonair.

Cathay's new aircraft orders are for three Airbus A330-300s and two Boeing 777-300s. It has also agreed to lease three A330-300s from International Lease Finance. The airline is an existing operator of both types.

The new aircraft will be delivered between 2005 and 2007 and all will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines, like most aircraft in the airline's fleet.

CAL's two new-build 747-400Fs are due for delivery in 2006. It says that by 2007 its freighter fleet will comprise 21 aircraft.

EVA has separately firmed up options on eight 777-300ERs, adding to firm orders placed in 2000 for three 777-200LRs and four -300ERs. The twinjets are powered exclusively by General Electric GE90 engines.

The 777s will be delivered between 2005 and 2009 and will replace older 747-400s that EVA plans to convert into freighters. The airline says it has yet to decide on numbers, however.

EVA last week also concluded sale and leaseback agreements with a unit of GE Capital Aviation Services on three 777-300ERs, three 747-400 passenger variants and three 747-400 Combi variants.

Cathay was named launch customer for Boeing's 747-400 Special Freighter conversion programme early this year. It has for months been negotiating the purchase of up to 15 used 747-400s from other airlines. Some aircraft will be converted into freighters. Cathay will not confirm it will be acquiring aircraft from SIA, saying only that it "has plans to expand its long-haul fleet and will make an announcement to this effect in due course".

Fellow Hong Kong-based carrier Dragonair has also been negotiating the purchase of used 747-400s for conversion into freighters. One airline that it is known to have held talks with is SIA.

China Southern Airlines has switched engine supplier for its next batch of A320 family aircraft, selecting the CFM International CFM56-5B to power 21 aircraft on firm order. The carrier's existing fleet of 24 A319s and A320s is powered by International Aero Engines V2500 turbofans. China Southern finalised its new order with Airbus for 15 A320s and six A319s on 8 April, firming up a tentative deal that was announced in January. The aircraft will be delivered in 2005 and 2006.


Source: Flight International