China Airlines eyes either Airbus A350 or Boeing 777X to replace 777-300ERs

China Airlines is already eying the replacement of its Boeing 777-300ERs, with the Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777X being explored as options
Angel DiBilio /

Taiwan-based China Airlines is eyeing its next aircraft order, with the airline looking to replace its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the president of China Airlines, Kao Shing-Hwang said the airline is looking at either the Airbus A350-1000 or the Boeing 777X to replace its current Boeing 777-300ERs.

According to data, China Airlines currently has 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with an average age of 8.3 years. While the fleet is yet to enter the second half of its useful life, with limited delivery slots for the A350-1000 and 777X in the near-term future, the airline presumably wants to jump ahead of the foreseeable retirement of the 10 aircraft.

In addition to the 777-300ERs, China Airlines also operates seven Boeing 777F and 14 Airbus A350-900s.

That means that integrating either the 777X or the A350-1000 into its fleet would be possible without introducing an additional cockpit type, considering Boeing is looking to certify the 777X as the derivative of the original 777.

However, while Airbus delivered the first A350-1000 in February 2018, Boeing is still in the process of certifying the 777X.

China Airlines Boeing 777-300ERs are configured in a three-class layout with 358 seats split between Business (40), Premium Economy (62), and Economy (256) classes. The carrier’s Airbus A350-900s fit 306 passengers, with 32 in Business, 31 in Premium Economy, and 243 in Economy Class seats.

On its product page for the A350-1000, Airbus says that the aircraft “comfortably accommodates from 350 to 410 passengers in a standard three-class configuration, with 40% more area for premium-category seating”.

Meanwhile, Boeing advertises the 777-8 and 777-9 seating 395 and 426 passengers in a typical two-class configuration, respectively, adding that both types have a cabin that is “16 in. [40.6 centimeters] wider than the competition”.

China Airlines opting for the smaller 777-8 would be a surprising move, bucking an industry trend of airlines choosing the larger 777-9. At the same time, it could order both the 777-8F and 777-9, covering its future cargo and passenger aircraft needs.

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