China Eastern Airlines has signed a firm order with Airbus for 20 A350-900s, in a deal the carrier values at just under $6 billion.
Shanghai-headquartered China Eastern actually revealed the Airbus order in an April 28 stock exchange filing, according to Bloomberg.
However, Airbus and the carrier waited a day to announce it publicly because on April 28 China Eastern announced an order for 15 Boeing 787-9s which it had placed at the same time as its Airbus order.
(China Eastern valued the 787-9 order at $3.9 billion in its stock exchange filing, according to Bloomberg. It valued both orders at 2014 pricing, which may mean it had signed commitments for the aircraft well before it signed firm purchase agreements.)
“The introduction of the latest generation A350 XWB aircraft demonstrates that the partnership between China Eastern Airlines and Airbus has embarked on a new phase,” says Liu Shaoyong, chairman of China Eastern Airlines.
China Eastern becomes the third Chinese carrier to order the A350 XWB, after Cathay Pacific Airways and Air China.
“The introduction of the A350 XWB will play a very important role in promoting our operational capability, profitability and service brand on our international long haul routes and opening a new chapter in the international development of China Eastern Airlines,” adds Liu.
Accoding to Bloomberg, citing China Eastern’s April 28 stock exchange filing, the carrier’s new Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787-9 orders will, along with its existing order backlog for 11 Boeing 777-300ERs and seven A330s, satisfy China Eastern’s grwoth needs until 2025.
China Eastern is due to take its A350-900s and 787s over a four-year period from 2018, according to its April 28 stock exchange filing.
Some of the aircraft will replace 12 older A330s in the carrier’s fleet. The airline intends to retire those aircraft by 2020, according to Bloomberg.
China Eastern Airlines operates one of the largest Airbus fleets in the world, with nearly 300 Airbus aircraft in service, Airbus notes.
In addition to its outstanding widebody orders, the airline has orders outstanding for 67 Airbus A320s, 70 A320neos, 53 Boeing 737-800s and 20 Comac C919s.
China Eastern’s A350-900 order, and Philippine Airlines’ signing of a firm purchase agreement for six A350-900s on April 29 along with options on six more, means Airbus has now recorded firm orders for 803 A350 XWB widebodies from 43 customers.
To date 20 A350 XWBs, all of them A350-900s, have been delivered to five customers.