China Eastern Airlines will add four Boeing 777-300ERs and seven Airbus A330-300s to its fleet this year, concentrating all additional widebody aircraft at its home operation in Shanghai.
Twenty-seven Airbus A320-family aircraft and 34 Boeing 737s will also enter service with China Eastern and subsidiary airlines this year. Meanwhile, the group will prepare to retire 10 A330s in 2018, a company source said.
This year, new A320-family aircraft will go to the group's core company, China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd., and its branches. All of the new 737s will join the fleets of six subsidiary airlines, each of which has its own air operator's certificate (AOC), the group said. The subsidiaries include Shanghai Airlines, China United Airlines and China Eastern Yunnan Airlines.
The allocation of Airbus and Boeing narrowbody aircraft to separate fleets follows established China Eastern group policy. Another company source said the group will do the same with widebody aircraft. Of the 15 787-9s that will begin arriving in 2018, 10 will go to Shanghai Airlines and five to China Eastern Yunnan, the source said. The core company's widebody aircraft fleet, meanwhile, includes 777s, A330s and, beginning in 2018, Airbus A350s.
Seven A330-300s and three A330-200s will leave the fleet in the first seven months of 2018 year, the first source said. Those aircraft have like-for-like replacements. China Eastern agreed to take 15 A330s from 75 government orders in 2015. This year's seven new A330-300s must have been included in that agreement. The other eight should come close behind them, since Airbus is replacing the A330-300 with the A330-900.
The arrival of four 777-300ERs will complete deliveries to China Eastern of that type. The carrier has 16 of the aircraft in service.
Two China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. branches, based at Chengdu in southwestern China and Xian in northwestern China, have benefited from a decision to strengthen their 2017 allocations at the expense of the Shanghai operation. The group will send three A320s to Chengdu -- a stronghold of rival Air China -- after apparently planning to leave that branch as the only one that would not grow in 2017.
Three A320-family aircraft destined for the Xian operation will be joined by one more of the type, as well as an A330-200 transferred from Shanghai. Transfer of the widebody aircraft implies a plan for a long-haul service from Xian this year; presumably, it is not the one to Sydney via Wuhan that was announced in 2016. HNA Group's Hainan Airlines has scooped up that market with a direct Xian-Sydney service.
China Eastern, the largest operator at Xian, has suffered major incursions there by HNA over the past few years.
Shanghai Airlines is due to receive three 787-9s in 2018, four in 2019, two in 2020 and one in 2020. For China Eastern Yunnan, the deliveries in the same years will be one, two, one and one aircraft.