China Airlines has placed a firm order for 16 Boeing 787-9s, the Taiwan-based carrier said on Tuesday, marking the culmination of a widebody replacement evaluation delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline expects deliveries to start in 2025, when it embarks on plans to phase out its Airbus A330-300s. The contract includes options for eight more aircraft and rights to convert the order to the larger 787-10.
China Airlines, whose fleet also consists of Airbus A350-900s, said the Dreamliners will serve as the “mainstay” of its medium-capacity widebody fleet.
The carrier embarked on its widebody replacement program in 2018 but pushed back evaluations in 2020 due to Covid-19. It resumed the evaluation and introduction process in September 2021, in anticipation of the easing of the pandemic and a revival of the global passenger market. The airline hired outside consultants to provide input and conduct what it called a thorough study to choose the “optimal” aircraft model to support business development.
According to China Airlines, the operational flexibility of the Boeing 787-9 will simplify fleet dispatching, owing to what it called the airplane’s excellent cargo-carrying capacity. The airplane’s belly hold can carry 36 containers.
The airline operates 65 passenger aircraft including the Airbus A350-900, A330-300, and A321neo. Its Boeing fleet consists of 777-300ERs and 737-800s, as well as twenty-one 747-400F/777F cargo aircraft.