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EVA Airways Upgrades Fleet as Outlooks Brighten in 2015

Jan 19, 2015 | By Steve Chuang

EVA Airways Corp., Taiwan's second-biggest airline plans to upgrade and expand its aircraft fleet in expectation that performance in 2015 will improve on 2014, when a string of air crashes cast a shadow to the global aviation industry. The brighter outlook is underpinned by improved operational efficiency and plummeting oil prices.

EVA Airways president, K.W. Chang, confirmed earlier that the Boeing 777-300ER, a long-range, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner noted for its superior fuel efficiency and high performance, will make up the majority of the company's passenger airliner fleet in the years to come.

Chang indicated that the firm will bring four 777-300ERs into service in 2015, increasing the total number of such airliners in its fleet to 22. In 2017, the firm will further expand the number to 32. Additionally, EVA plans to add six Airbus A321-200s and 2 two Airbus A330-200s to its fleet this year.

In addition to their 270-passenger capacity, each of the new Boeing 777-300ERs will be able to carry 15 to 20 tonnes of cargo. With the extra cargo capacity, EVA plans to downsize its freighter fleet to 12 planes to improve operational efficiency.

Chang said that EVA retired the last of its Boeing 747-400 Combi aircraft and will decommission eight more Boeing 747-400 freighters from its fleet in the near future. The company also plans to retire two MD-11 freighters by the end of March this year. The new Boeing 777-300ERs will offset the reduced cargo capacity from the retired freighters, the company said.

Increasing Flights to North America
Another factor fueling EVA's optimism this year is that the airline is increasing the number of flights to North America.

The airline will open a new route linking Taiwan to Houston and expand flights from Taiwan to Seattle, Toronto and other cities in North America this year. The move follows the announcement last December that EVA and Singapore Airlines will jointly operate Taiwan-North America routes.

EVA executives noted that the firm will focus on development of the North American market, which contributes the most to its performance currently. Through the partnership with Singapore Airlines, the company will be able to greatly enhance the flexibility of its North America services.

Presently, EVA Airways serves 55 non-stop flights weekly from Taiwan to major cities in North America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and Seattle, while Singapore Airlines provides 33 indirect flights to New York (via Frankfurt), Houston (via Moscow), San Francisco (via Hong Kong or Seoul) and Los Angeles (via Tokyo). Both airlines are the members of Star Alliance, world's largest global airline alliance headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.

In the face of increasingly intensifying competition in the North American market, particularly as oil prices have continuously spiraled down, Chang remains optimistic that EVA Airways will keep competitive and profitable in the service.

A Top-10 Airline
EVA Airways also was recently ranked among world's top 10 airlines in 2015 by AirlineRatings.com, a globally known website providing airline safety and product ratings. The ranking is likely to further boost the firm's images.

The top-10 list is headed by Air New Zealand, followed by Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Qantas Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways and British Airways. EVA Airways took seventh place in the rankings and was also rated as the best long-haul airline in the Asia Pacific region.

AirlineRatings.com explains that EVA Airways deserves the credit mostly due to its constant pursuit of innovation, as well as its commitment to providing diverse services for passengers, such as world's first premium economy service launched in 1992 and world's first flight provided using Boeing 777-300ERs in 2005. Also, the website reports that reliable aviation safety contributed to the airline's high ranking.

EVA finished the first 11 months of 2014 with revenue of NT$121.126 billion (US$4.037 billion), up 6.41% year-on-year and very close to 2013's total of NT$124.162 billion (US$4.138 billion), and is expected to cross the NT$130 billion (US$4.333 billion) revenue mark for the entire year. The company's monthly revenue has been in an uptrend for 11 straight months.

EVA Airways turned profitable in Q3 of 2014 and reduced cumulative losses for the first three quarters of the year to NT$204 million (US$6.8 million). With international oil prices falling (some of market observers have predicted that oil will fall to US$20 per barrel in 2015), the airline is likely to see stronger quarterly profits in Q4 and 2015.

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