China Eastern Airlines has placed orders for 15 B787-9 Dreamliners saying the new aircraft will enable it to add more flights to destinations in Europe and North America. The order coincides with an order placed with Airbus for 20 A350-900s, and all combined is valued at approximately US$10 billion at current list prices.
“The addition of these next-generation, fuel-efficient airplanes will play a key role in supporting China Eastern’s strategy for international expansion, and enable us to realise profits in point-to-point routes across the Pacific Ocean, and between China and Europe,” said China Eastern’s chairman, Liu Shaoyong.
China Eastern said it would use the Dreamliners to increase the frequency of its flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, as well on the recently-launched service to Chicago. These routes are currently operated by the airline’s B777-300ERs. The A350 routes have not been confirmed, but they are likely to be similar to the B787s, flying to North America, Europe or Oceania.
The two deals mark the first time China Eastern has ordered either the A350 or the Dreamliner. The Shanghai-based airline becomes only the second mainland Chinese carrier to purchase the A350, following Air China which has ordered 10 A350-900s. Four other Chinese airlines have placed orders for the B787: China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Air China.
In addition to the B787-9s and A350s, China Eastern has outstanding orders for 11 more B777-300ERs (taking its total fleet to 20). Both the A350s and B787s will be delivered to China Eastern over the course of three to four years, starting in 2018.