TAIWAN'S TWO major carriers EVA Air and China Airlines (CAL), are close to finalising orders for a total of up to 22 new 150-seat narrow bodies, as part of planned major re-equipment programmes.

EVA is understood to be finalising the purchase of an initial six McDonnell Douglas (MDC) MD-90s, with an option for a further six. The aircraft are required for use on the airline's recently launched domestic services.

Airbus Industrie is also competing for the deal, with its similarly sized A320, and Boeing has offered its 737-400. MDC, however, is reportedly near to clinching the deal with a heavily discounted offer of around $26 million per aircraft.

The four-year-old carrier already operates 24 larger wide bodies, including ten Boeing 747-400s and, nine 767s and five MDC MD-11s. It is scheduled to take delivery of a sixth MD-11 in August and two more 747-400 Combos in 1996. The carrier recently signed a letter of intent for four Boeing 777-200s, plus four options.

CAL, in the meantime, is expected to announce shortly the selection of a new 150-seat aircraft to replace its elderly 737-200s. The flag carrier has a requirement for up to ten aircraft, with the first entering service in 1997 (Flight International, 21 December, 1994-3 January).

The A320 is thought to be CAL's favoured choice over either the 737 or MD-90. CAL has already leased two International Aero Engines V2500-powered A320s from Region Air, as a two-year interim measure until the first aircraft is delivered.

In 1994 CAL announced a $4 billion plan to re-equip the carrier with 46 new passenger-aircraft. CAL, like EVA, signed a letter of intent in June to take four 777-200s, starting in 1999.

The order, however, is being contested by Airbus Industrie, which is offering its A340.

Source: Flight International