In August 2022, Taiwan-based China Airlines announced a multi-billion dollar deal with Boeing to renew part of its wide body fleet. The airline initially ordered 16 Boeing 787s, with options for a further eight of the jets. The airline has now exercised those options, so you can expect 24 Boeing 787s to join China Airlines’ fleet. Let’s go over all the details.
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China Airlines replacing Airbus A330s with Boeing 787s
China Airlines has placed an order with Boeing for the 787. Specifically, the airline has placed a firm order for 24 787s, all of which are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2028. This order includes 18 787-9s, as well as six 787-10s.
In 2022, the airline placed a firm order for 16 jets with eight options, but those options have now been exercised. Furthermore, while the order was initially exclusively for the 787-9, the airline has exercised options to convert some of those orders to the larger 787-10.
China Airlines intends to primarily use the 24 Boeing 787s to replace its fleet of 18 Airbus A330-300s. These are the wide body jets that China Airlines uses for short and medium haul flights, and they’re an average of around 15 years old (and will be 18+ years old by the time that 787 deliveries start).
While the Boeing 787-9 has the range to operate ultra long haul flights (the 787-10 has shorter range), the airline doesn’t intend to use the planes that way, so I’d expect that at least some of these aircraft will feature a regional configuration.
Given the increased order, it does look like China Airlines also intends to use some of these planes for longer routes (but not ultra long haul flights), like services from Taiwan to Australia and New Zealand.
China Airlines is the second Taiwanese airline to order the Boeing 787, as EVA Air has both Boeing 787-9s and 787-10s in its fleet.
How the Boeing 787 fits into China Airlines’ fleet
China Airlines has undergone an impressive fleet modernization project in recent years:
- The airline has replaced its Airbus A340s and Boeing 747s with Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 777-300ERs
- The airline is currently replacing its Boeing 737-800s with Airbus A321neos
- Now the airline will replace its Airbus A330-300s with Boeing 787-9s and 787-10s
The Boeing 787 is of course a very capable plane and a nice addition to China Airlines’ fleet. Nonetheless I always find it a bit odd when airlines order both the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787s. There are synergies from having more of one aircraft type, from crew training, to maintenance, to aircraft utilization.
At the same time, I can appreciate that these decisions are often made independently (since different parts of the fleet are being replaced), and I assume there were some advantages of going with Boeing here, whether it be price, financing, or delivery timeline.
China Airlines has placed an order for 24 Boeing 787s, to be delivered between 2026 and 2028. This includes 18 787-9s, as well as six 787-10s. These planes will primarily be used to replace existing Airbus A330-300s on high capacity short and medium haul routes. However, since this order has been expanded, you can also expect these planes to be used on some longer routes.
China Airlines is a pleasant airline to fly with, and it’s nice to see the airline completing the last step of its fleet modernization project.
What do you make of China Airlines ordering the Boeing 787?