Wow: China Airlines Airbus A350s Getting New Cabins

Wow: China Airlines Airbus A350s Getting New Cabins

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While details remain limited as of now, China Airlines plans to introduce new cabins on its Airbus A350s, despite these planes still being relatively new.

China Airlines investing big in Airbus A350 cabins

China Airlines has revealed plans to partner with Airbus to retrofit the cabins of its A350-900s. For context, the airline has 15 of these jets, and they’re an average of around seven years old, having all been delivered between 2016 and 2018.

Details of the cabin retrofits are very limited as of now, though we’re being promised a new travel experience across all cabins (business class, premium economy, and economy), updated inflight entertainment, and a refreshed cabin environment. The airline hopes that this will “enhance the competitiveness of China Airlines through a more comfortable traveler experience and high-quality service.”

We don’t yet know when this retrofit project will happen. Given current supply chain challenges, I suspect the updates aren’t imminent. We do know that the airline is investing $400 million USD in updating A350 cabins, which comes out to nearly $27 million USD per aircraft. That represents some pretty substantial cabin updates, so we’re not just talking about new carpets and seat fabrics.

China Airlines’ A350 business class

This is a massive investment for modern aircraft

I wasn’t really expecting China Airlines to announce cabin updates on such new aircraft, so this is pretty cool. China Airlines’ A350s already feature gorgeous interiors, including stylish reverse herringbone seats in business class.

I can’t help but wonder what business class product China Airlines is planning on introducing. Whatever it is, I have to imagine that it will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Taiwan is one of the most competitive aviation markets in the world, as you have three world class airlines. In addition to China Airlines, you also have EVA Air and Starlux Airlines, both of which offer a lovely passenger experience, especially in business class:

Starlux Airlines’ A350 business class

When you look at the new, modern business class products, my money would be on China Airlines selecting the Collins Aerospace Elements product, as you’ll find on Starlux Airlines. That’s because China Airlines already has a partnership with Collins Aerospace, and has historically relied on that manufacturer for its premium seats.

Collins Aerospace Elements product

The one thing I find a bit puzzling is that China Airlines plans to invest in its A350 cabins, but not its 777 cabins. China Airlines has 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, and they’re an average of just over nine years old. Surely they’re nowhere close to retirement (or are they?), so I wonder why the A350s are being updated before the 777s.

In Taiwan, China Airlines isn’t alone in updating the cabins of its existing aircraft. EVA Air also plans to update its 777 cabins, though that will only start in 2026.

EVA Air’s 777 business class

China Airlines also has Boeing 787s on order, but these are intended primarily as regional aircraft, to replace Airbus A330s.

Bottom line

China Airlines will be updating the cabins of its 15 Airbus A350-900s, in a project that’s expected to cost around $400 million USD. It’s rare to see an airline update cabins of jets this new, especially when they already have a competitive product. I’m very curious to see how this plays out, and to learn more.

What are you expecting from China Airlines’ A350 cabin updates?

Conversations (22)
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  1. Bernard Scholten Guest

    Please come to Chicago, We need you, thank you

  2. Pete Guest

    When your main competitor is EVA, there's no way you can afford to rest easy.

  3. Thomas Fleisher Guest

    Why bother putting windows in the forward cabin. Look at that photo of 7A and tell me they couldn’t have com up with a way to free the windows?? The seats look phenomenal, but blocking the windows is so dumb. I prefer windows and would be really pissed to pay a sh#t ton of money to fly this!

  4. PointsandMilesDoc New Member

    Wow what a surprise! I really enjoyed their cabins a few months ago, and the catering out of Taipei was top notch. Honestly to outdo EVA, all they would have to do is add pajamas. :)

  5. Tim Dunn Diamond

    China Airlines might be responding to greater competition.

    Delta's new SEA-TPE flight is set to depart in minutes and their President just announced that demand has been so strong that the flight will be upgraded to an A350 next spring.
    Remember, there were all kinds of nay-sayers that don't believe DL will succeed among 4 airlines that will ply SEA-TPE.

    and DL retimes its SEA-TPE flight in the fall to allow connections in both...

    China Airlines might be responding to greater competition.

    Delta's new SEA-TPE flight is set to depart in minutes and their President just announced that demand has been so strong that the flight will be upgraded to an A350 next spring.
    Remember, there were all kinds of nay-sayers that don't believe DL will succeed among 4 airlines that will ply SEA-TPE.

    and DL retimes its SEA-TPE flight in the fall to allow connections in both directions across DL's entire domestic network but also requiring another aircraft.

    China Airlines - which is also a SkyTeam member - probably sees that the Taiwan market is strong but the products being offered are high quality by a number of competitors.

    The addition of the A350 to DL's lineup opens the door to more A350 flights; LAX is the only west coast A350 pilot base while SEA is heavily A330.
    The A350 from SEA could open up the entire Pacific Rim and DL's success with SEA-TPE could easily translate into more Asia flights.

    wouldn't it be something if a market as competitive as SEA-TPE becomes a winner for ALL FOUR airlines?

    1. yoloswag420 Guest

      Are you for real about DL increasing seats with the A350? I had been looking at this route and it seemed to not have very high load factors. Perhaps their recent SkyMiles sale really did fill up seats. There is admittedly a very large Taiwanese community in SEA.

      I did find DL's route interesting since it's a daytime route compared to the Taiwanese carrier strategy of late night flights for connecting traffic.

      If you examine...

      Are you for real about DL increasing seats with the A350? I had been looking at this route and it seemed to not have very high load factors. Perhaps their recent SkyMiles sale really did fill up seats. There is admittedly a very large Taiwanese community in SEA.

      I did find DL's route interesting since it's a daytime route compared to the Taiwanese carrier strategy of late night flights for connecting traffic.

      If you examine the overall capacity of West Coast, then it's actually not that significant of a change, especially if you only compare DL on the daytime flights, which comprise of 1x from UA in SFO and 2x from BR in SFO and LAX, 1x from CI in LAX. CI has moved capacity from over to SEA and reduced their frequencies down South. JX is really only the net new, but it does make sense given their AS partnership and need to establish themselves as a new carrier.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      As I have repeatedly said, if a market is doing well enough for one airline, the rest will figure it out.
      Many assumed that Delta didn't care about expanding in Asia or couldn't find routes that worked - and yet each new route that is added is confirmation that there are profitable opportunities.
      The chances are that Delta is starting the route because it won corporate business; Delta rarely starts a new international...

      As I have repeatedly said, if a market is doing well enough for one airline, the rest will figure it out.
      Many assumed that Delta didn't care about expanding in Asia or couldn't find routes that worked - and yet each new route that is added is confirmation that there are profitable opportunities.
      The chances are that Delta is starting the route because it won corporate business; Delta rarely starts a new international route w/o having corporate clients in sight.

      Yes, DL has an advantage on SEA-TPE in having its own metal connections to all of the US (DL's network is bigger than AS') and having its flights at opposite times to the 3 Taiwanese carriers that are all competing for the same passengers.

      CI knows how competitive the US-Taiwan market has become and DL's statement that the route is doing well enough that they are upgrading the aircraft before the 1st flight has even left the gate indicates that every player is going to have to sharpen their pencils and put their very best strategies forward.

      For CI, those strategies will include cabin upgrades on fairly young aircraft.

      and, for the record, I suspect that CI and DL will eventually work together and use their combined strength against Eva and Starlux but CI isn't ready to admit that it needs help to win just yet.

      And as hard as it is for some to understand, the US-TPE market is

    3. glenn t Diamond

      So, DeltaTim manages to turn a post on AirChina to be All About Delta!
      What a surprise.

    4. Steven E Guest

      Funny - the post is actually about China Airlines

  6. Gerwanese Member

    > [...] so I wonder why the A350s are being updated before the 777s.

    The announcement was about CI partnering with Airbus for this upgrade. It doesn't necessarily mean that the 777s don't get updates, but obviously it wouldn't be done by Airbus and I imagine CI might still be negotiating with other companies. ;)

    While most of the aviation industry lost a lot of money during Covid, CI realized record revenues during that time...

    > [...] so I wonder why the A350s are being updated before the 777s.

    The announcement was about CI partnering with Airbus for this upgrade. It doesn't necessarily mean that the 777s don't get updates, but obviously it wouldn't be done by Airbus and I imagine CI might still be negotiating with other companies. ;)

    While most of the aviation industry lost a lot of money during Covid, CI realized record revenues during that time (thanks to the super busy cargo fleet). Now they are in a great financial situation and at the same time feel pressure from EVA and Starlux. I guess this combination lead to the cabin update coming earlier than expected.

  7. TC Guest

    Hopefully they make the headrest adjustable or seat back higher. The current seat back is too low and has no head support and when you lie flat you have to scoot down otherwise your head overhangs.

  8. Junebug Guest

    How can you spend 27M on a aircraft interior??

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      With money.

      I kid, I kid.

      Airline seats are phenomenally expensive, and plush biz. hardware can easily exceed US $250,000 per seat.

  9. yoloswag420 Guest

    Likely CI is feeling the pressure. JX currently has one of the best seats in the entire world. Probably only behind The Room and QSuites.

    EVA just announced their plans to retrofit their 777s and JAL is getting a massively upgraded cabin with their A350Ks. That means the competition is tightening in the East Asia space.

    CI has always been perceived the less popular/quality carrier in Taiwan, so maybe this is to add some wow factor to them.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      thank you!
      of course competition matters and companies invest in their product in order to maintain and improve their market presence.

      It's not just a comparison of product to other Asian airlines.
      US airlines have never had to compete w/ the best product because they have deep access to the world's largest air travel market and the corporate revenue that is part of it.

      DL is re-entering the TPE market and UA is...

      thank you!
      of course competition matters and companies invest in their product in order to maintain and improve their market presence.

      It's not just a comparison of product to other Asian airlines.
      US airlines have never had to compete w/ the best product because they have deep access to the world's largest air travel market and the corporate revenue that is part of it.

      DL is re-entering the TPE market and UA is dumping capacity into the market from SFO so CI has no choice but to up its game.

  10. DL DM Guest

    B773 in CI fleet is all leased. That’s why there’s no plan to retrofit the cabins.

  11. 747-400 Member

    This is very strange. The A350 cabins are already state of the art. Basically just lighting a fire to shareholder cash.

    1. Kiwi Guest

      I’m guessing they’re all coming up for D checks soon so this would be the best time to make this sort of change

  12. Chris M Guest

    It's already rolled out. I was just on a flight from Taipei to Singapore on 6/4 The new Cabins are absolutely fantastic. The crew told me they were brand spanking new

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Chris M -- I suspect you were actually on the leased SAS A350?
      https://onemileatatime.com/news/china-airlines-scandinavian-airlines-airbus-a350/

    2. Chris M Guest

      @ben OMG you're right! So so sorry for the mis-information... I didn't check the livery. I picked seat 20A in the small cabin, it felt like first class! I check your page daily thanks for such good content!

    3. DL DM Guest

      The one and only A359 leased from the near future SkyTeam carrier, SAS, is used to operate exclusively on TPE-FCO and TPE-SIN.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

glenn t Diamond

So, DeltaTim manages to turn a post on AirChina to be All About Delta! What a surprise.

1
Kiwi Guest

I’m guessing they’re all coming up for D checks soon so this would be the best time to make this sort of change

1
TravelinWilly Diamond

With money. I kid, I kid. Airline seats are phenomenally expensive, and plush biz. hardware can easily exceed US $250,000 per seat.

1
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