China Airlines Boeing 777-36N(ER) (41821/1227) B-18051 arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 23, 2015.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Taipei-based China Airlines is seeing improvement in yields on its North American routes since introducing the Boeing 777-300ER, replacing the four-engine 747-400, chairman & CEO Hang Hung Sun has indicated.
“The new product has been quite well received by the public,” he said. “Now we are making a profit on our Los Angeles and New York route. The 777s are more fuel-efficient and nonstop service both ways is possible. Internal costs and pricing in the marketplace have improved load factors,” Sun said.
China Airlines took recently delivery of its sixth of 10 358-seat 777-300ER; this month it began operating the latest aircraft on the Taipei-San Francisco route. The 777-300ERs will start serving Taipei-Frankfurt routes in November. The SkyTeam carrier flies to destinations in North America—such as Los Angeles, New York JFK, Honolulu and Vancouver—with more than 26,000 available seats each week.
The Taiwanese carrier will begin to replace its Airbus A340-300s with the A350-900 in next year’s third quarter.
“We will take delivery of four A350s in 2016, six in 2017 and four more in 2018. At this time, in 2018, nine of our 13 747-400s will be removed from the fleet,” Sun said.
After that, Sun said China Airlines will “not think about any more new long-haul aircraft until 2020. Then we will see what next generation aircraft will be available to replace the 777.”
He said the carrier is not looking to establish any joint ventures in the near future as it focuses on better service and fleet modernization.
Over the past four years, China Airlines has faced financial losses, low cargo demand and high fuel prices. “But this year we are doing much better. Fuel has come down to a reasonable level,” he said.
The freight market is pretty uncertain, although the first quarter was good and the second quarter is a bit slower, according to Sun. “We will have to wait and see,” he said, adding that three Boeing 747-400Fs are parked in the desert. “We may be able to recall one, but we will wait for the last quarter.”
The cargo makes up about 30%-35% of China Airlines’ business. “In the old days it was up to 43%,” Sun said.
China Airlines suffered eight fatal accidents between the 1980s and 2002. Since then, the carrier has invested a lot in safety improvements. “For us cost is not an issue. We have to do our best; we never compromise on safety,” he said, adding the carrier is targeting $100 million in operation improvements every year.
The airline expects to transport about 15 million passengers in 2015.
(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)