Shandong Airlines says it will grow its fleet to at least 140 aircraft by 2020, more than doubling its current fleet size.

The carrier's comments come after it inked an agreement with Boeing for 50 737s yesterday. This comprises 34 of the re-engined Max variant and 16 737-800s.

The order is part of the carrier's 13th five-year plan. Airlines in China order aircraft based on five-year plans, and the 13th runs from 2016 to 2020.

A spokesman for Shandong tells Flightglobal the carrier plans to use the incoming aircraft to further strengthen its domestic operations, as well as to expand its international network.

He explains that the carrier has a strategy to dominate the Shandong-Xiamen-Chongqing geographical triangle with services that are typically within a two-hour range. With the new jets, the priority will be to cement its position in Shandong, and also expand capacity at its bases in Xiamen and Chongqing.

The carrier also plans to add more international destinations including cities in Japan, Korea and South East Asia, to its network.

Shangdong says the average age of the 67 737s in its fleet now stands at four years. Two of its oldest 737-300s will also be retired by May, and will bring the average fleet age down further.

Asked if the airline has plans to introduce widebodies, the spokesman did not rule out the possibility but says there are no such plans at the moment.

“We will continue to monitor our needs,” he adds.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows that Shandong has 67 737s and seven Bombardier CRJs in its fleet. It also has 10 Comac ARJ21 regional jets on order.

Shandong operates mostly domestic services, but also have services to international destinations in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Source: Cirium Dashboard