EVA Air is expecting only moderate growth in its cargo business in 2007, citing high fuel prices, overcapacity and competition from sea freight as factors dampening down demand. However Clay Sun, senior vice president, cargo management department, says good growth is expected from selected markets, including Indonesia, India andVietnam.
The main focus for the carrier during the year will continue to be its re-fl eeting programme, which is seeing a gradual shift away from MD-11 freighters and B747-400 combis towards B747-400 conversions and 777-300ER passenger aircraft. The carrier took delivery of its fi rst freighter conversion – formerly one of EVA’s nine combis – in April, and the second will come in August. Six more conversions – all from combis – are then due for delivery in 2008 and 2009.
The initial conversion was deployed to Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas, and future ones are also likely to be focused on transpacifi c routes, joining the carrier’s three factory-built B747-400Fs which also serve the US.
Meanwhile, EVA sent two MD-11Fs back to World Airways in December and March, and will be returning its sole remaining leased aircraft in July. That leaves 11 MD-11Fs in its fl eet, some dry leased from GECAS. The carrier has given no indication when these might be retired, but Sun confi rms that the plan is to replace them with 747-400 conversions. There has also not yet been any decision on a next generation freighter. EVA was one of the fi rst carriers to be linked to the 777 freighter, but an order has still not materialised. Sun says the choice of next generation freighter is still under evaluation. “We are collecting information,” he says.
In the passenger fl eet, the carrier has now taken delivery of six 777-300ERs, which are fl ying to London and Los Angeles. Two more are to come in August and December respectively, with four in 2008 and one in 2009. Sun says they will be used on routes to the US, as well as to Paris.
He insists that the deployment of the 777s will mean no loss of capacity, even though they have a smaller cargo capacity than the B747-400 combi they replace, because all the destinations served by the aircraft are also served by EVA freighters.
EVA remains barred from fl ying directly to the mainland Chinese market, but continues to serve it via Macau and Hong Kong with up to 11 freighter fl ights a week to the latter airport. In May 2006, the carrier opened its Southern China Cargo Center in Hong Kong, and this accounts for 30 percent of its cargo revenue.
Service further into China is in cooperation with Shanghai Airlines Cargo International, which started a Shanghai to Hong Kong freighter service on 1 April to connect with EVA fl ights, mirroring a similar cooperation the two carriers have had via Macau since 2003. EVA bought a 25 percent stake in Shanghai Airlines Cargo International in July 2006, with a further 20 percent held by EVA’s parent Evergreen. – Peter Conway