EVA, China Air order more jets

EVA, China Air order more jets

EVA Air, Taiwan's second largest carrier, is planning to buy two more Airbus A330-200 passenger jets and could buy Airbus freighters as well, the company said on Thursday.

Larger rival China Airlines said it would buy two more Boeing 747-400 freighters to meet rising cargo demand, boosting its cargo fleet to 21 aircraft by 2007.

The news comes after EVA Air signed a deal for 10 A330-200 passenger jets -- eight leased, two purchased -- in 2001. EVA is also in discussions with Airbus to buy an as yet undecided number of freighters.

China Airlines expects record revenues this year of TWD$89 billion ($2.7 billion), up 17.3 percent from last year, and raised its pre-tax profit forecast last month to $121.3 million, from an earlier estimate of $97 million.

Asian airlines are expecting a strong year after business was throttled by the outbreak of SARS in 2003.

EVA Air signed on Thursday a deal announced earlier to purchase eight Boeing 777-300ERs passenger planes worth $1.49 billion.

The airline had operated an all-Boeing fleet until last year when it took delivery of the first two of 10 A330s. The remaining aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2005.

The two additional Airbus jets would be introduced into service in 2006.

China Airlines quoted the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as saying that cargo volume for Taiwan would increase by seven percent between 2003-07 and that the airline's own cargo volume had grown by 20.9 percent in the first quarter.

EVA is also eyeing an expansion of its cargo capacity which it hopes will be generating 60 percent of the company's revenue within the next few years from roughly 50 percent now.

EVA operates a fleet that will number 48 by the end of the year, while China Airlines has a fleet of 55 aircraft.