November 11, 2010
Taiwan's two biggest airlines said on Thursday they would lease a combined eight large aircraft to keep up with a surge in demand for new China flights before orders for new planes arrive.
China Airlines and EVA Airways will lease the planes as demand grows for flights to China that have jumped from virtually none to 370 per week over the past five years as relations between the two countries thaw after decades of political hostilities.
Flight routes opened across the 160 km-wide (100-mile) Taiwan Strait despite historical security issues as island investors sighted economic powerhouse China as a manufacturing and sales hot spot. The two sides agreed this year to add the latest 100 passenger flights and 20 more air cargo routes.
China Airlines said it would lease five Airbus A330s from an undisclosed company, with deliveries scheduled to start this month and end 2012, an airline publicist said.
"The whole market is growing, and since August this year we have expanded continuously," airline spokesman Hamilton Liu said. "Our seating capacity is now the biggest of all the airlines that fly the direct routes."
EVA plans to lease three A330-300 aircraft next year, an airline official and local media said.
Both airlines have ordered new planes that are due for delivery between next year and 2015, Taiwan's semi-official Central News Agency said.