China Eastern Airlines (CEA) is expected to boost international capacity by more than 20% this year.
The Shanghai-based carrier plans to introduce 49 aircraft in 2016 and open more long-haul international routes to Chicago, Madrid, Amsterdam, St. Petersburg, Brisbane and Prague starting from Shanghai this year, according to CEO Ma Xulun.
Ma said, “It is very rare for CEA to open so many international long-haul routes in one year in the carrier’s history.” He also said the carrier would add flight frequencies on international flights to Japan, Korea and some Southeast Asian countries.
The carrier operates the Airbus A330-200 to Europe, the A330-300 to neighboring countries, and the Boeing 777-300ER on international routes to the U.S.
The carrier’s GM-planning and development Guo Lijun said it would choose one between the A350-900 and Boeing 787-9 for the main long-haul aircraft type over the next five to 10 years.
CAD – China Aviation Daily
China Eastern Airlines will soon be debuting new cabin products for its Airbus A330-300 (A333). According to CARNOC, the second largest Chinese carrier is planning on introducing yet another type of lie-flat Business Class seat, the Vantage XL model from Thompson Aero, while adding Premium Economy Class, likely Economy Class seats with extra legroom (38 inches).
Over the past few years, >talkairlines has dedicated a number of posts to the evolution of China Eastern Airlines. In 2014, we wrote about the new Zodiac Cirrus lie-flat Business Class products chosen for the long-haul fleet, including the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) and Airbus A330-200 (A332). The new cabin products and connectivity have quickly transcended the perviously poorly reputed airline to become far more competitive.
Interestingly, China Eastern drifted away from Zodiac while deciding the new A333 Business Class seats. Instead of the Cirrus model, the carrier has chosen Vantage XL from Thompson Aero for the A333. There will be 32 staggered seats in a 1-2-1 layout spread across 8 rows. Each seat will feature a 15-inch PTV and USB outlets.
>talkairlines finds the switching of manufacturer to be confusing. The Vantage XL directly competes with the Cirrus model in the market of 1-2-1 lie-flat Business Class market. Most global carriers choose one between the two; it is rarely heard of that airlines choose both models. It is likely that the reasoning is related to the recent Zodiac scandals. If one is simply judging from the configuration of both models, the decision-making of China Eastern does not make much sense. Let’s try comparing the A333 seat-maps of 4 different airlines: 2 Vantage XL users, including Qantas and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and 2 Zodiac Cirrus users, including Cathay Pacific and American Airlines (ex-US Airways jets). It is easily notable that, in the typical Business Class section before doors L2 and R2, both models can allow airlines to install around 30 seats.
In Economy Class, China Eastern will install 262 seats, each with a 10-inch PTV and USB outlets. There are also reports on a new Premium Economy Class, though it is unclear whether China Eastern is simply following Air China in offering Economy Class seats with extra legroom or China Southern in introducing a more spacious seat-type. However, judging by the number of seats, it is more likely that there will not be a new premium design.
Wireless internet access will be provided on the A333. China Eastern has been a pioneer in Wi-Fi-related innovations among its Chinese peers and arguably global airlines. The carrier has been active in making the Wi-Fi portal a platform for e-commerce, real-time payment, and call button-replacing communications (Microsoft XiaoIce). On the A333, customers can also expect to enjoy the benefits of a more connected cabin.