China Airlines Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus A321neo

China Airlines has joined the ranks of Airbus A321neo operators, taking its delivery of its inaugural A321neo on Wednesday. The jet is the first of 25 A321neos the Taipei-based airline has on order. The sparkling new plane departed Hamburg on Wednesday and is now in Dubai enroute to Taipei.

China Airlines has just taken delivery Of its first Airbus A321neo. Photo: Airbus

The China Airlines A321neo a replacement for Boeing 737-800s

After arriving at its new home, the Airbus will undergo preparation and certification before flying its first passengers. China Airlines says the A321neo will progressively replace older Boeing 737-800 aircraft on routes throughout Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and cross-strait flights. The new jets will be able to fly on routes of up to seven hours from Taipei.

China Airlines has a mixed fleet of 85 aircraft, however, that includes quite a few Boeing 747-400s dedicated to freight operations. Ferrying around passengers are 23 Airbus A330-300s, 14 Airbus A350-900s, and 17 Boeing 737-800s.

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China Airlines’ A321neo under construction in Hamburg earlier this year. Photo: Airbus

The Boeing 737s only have an average age of 8.1 years (only two 737s have hit double figures – B-18615 at 19.4 years and B-18612 at 21.1 years) but China Airlines is phasing the narrowbodied Boeings out. The new kid on the block, the A321neo will form the “core” of China Airlines’ narrowbody fleet and benefit from cockpit commonality with the airline’s existing A330 and A350 aircraft.

The ferry flight to Taipei is using 10% sustainable aviation fuel which China Airlines says will see a 8% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to traditional jet fuel.

First A321neo comes via Air Lease Corporation

China Airlines’ first A321neo, B-18101, arrives on lease from Air Lease Corporation. Fourteen of the A321neos will land under lease packages while 11 will come straight from Airbus. Air Lease Coporation is handling the leasing of six of the jets.

“ALC is honored to be the first to introduce the A321neo to our long-time customer China Airlines,” said John Plueger, Chief Executive Officer and President of Air Lease Corporation. 

“The A321neo will become the backbone of China Airlines’ single-aisle fleet, providing fleet expansion and modernization, and elevation of their passenger experience to new levels.  The greater fuel efficiency and operating flexibility of the A321neo will also maximize profitability and further China Airlines environmental sustainability goals.” 

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The main cabin inside China Airlines’ new Airbus A321neo aircraft. Photo: China Airlines

China Airlines upgrades its narrowbody inflight experience

China Airlines’ newest plane is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines and seats 180 passengers in a two-class layout. Those 180 passengers will enjoy a significant upgrade in the cabin experience compared to the older generation Boeing 737s.

Upgrades include Premium Business Class with fully-flat seats, control of the personalized entertainment system via a passenger’s mobile phone, high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi and a mobile App with free text messaging via choice of Line, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber and Line2.

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The premium business class cabin on China Airlines’ Airbus A321neo. Photo: China Airlines

Fully-flat premium business class seats developed for widebody passenger aircraft remain relatively uncommon on narrowbody aircraft but that’s what China Airlines is installing on their A321neos. There will be 12 business class seats that convert to a lie-flat bed – albeit in a 2-2 configuration rather than the industry leading 1-1 layout.

In the main cabin, things are a little more business as usual, with 168 passengers seated in the standard 3-3 configuration. Still, there are some consolations, such as a 13.3” 4K high-resolution seatback inflight entertainment screen, factory fresh seats, and a crisp clean cabin.

The new China Airlines Airbus A321neo is due to land in Taipei on Friday, December 2.

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