China Airlines (CI, Taipei Taoyuan) has confirmed it will order sixteen B787-9s with deliveries scheduled to start in 2025. The jets will become the backbone of the carrier's medium-capacity widebody fleet and service regional, medium-haul, and long-haul routes.

Announcing the order on August 30, the airline said the acquisition was part of a wide-body passenger aircraft replacement program initiated in 2018 but later halted due to the pandemic. The B787s, the first of the type to join the broader China Airlines fleet, will simplify fleet dispatching, facilitate medium and long-haul network expansion, boost the airline's cargo capacity, and increase its overall competitiveness. The airline adds the deal includes options for eight more aircraft as well as the possibility of converting to higher capacity B787-10s. However, exercising any options or conversion rights will depend on market developments in the market, it said.

With geopolitical tensions high across the Taiwan-US-China axis, the Boeing order was widely anticipated as a goodwill gesture towards the US from Taipei even if it potentially exacerbated continuing difficulties Boeing has with Beijing. Earlier this year, US Republican Senator Lindsay Graham visited Taiwan and publicly urged China Airlines to place a substantial order with Boeing.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, China Airlines has 69 active and 26 inactive aircraft in its fleet, including 41 active and five inactive widebody planes. The widebody fleet includes ten B777-300ERs with an average age of 7.3 years; fourteen A350-900s with an average age of 5.1 years; and twenty-two A330-300s with an average age of 14.5 years.

In addition, the airline has eight A321-200NX and nineteen B737-800 narrowbodies in its passenger fleet as well as 22 dedicated freighters including four B777-200Fs and eighteen B747-400FSCDs.

China Airlines confirms the A330s will be progressively retired from its fleet as the B787s arrive. Just three of the now mid-life A330s are owned by the carrier, with the remainder sourced from various lessors. The oldest of the A330s, B-18301 (msn 602 ), leased from Altavair, is 18.3 years, while the youngest, B-18361 (msn 1539), is leased from Avolon and is 8.3 years old.