By Lei Yan
The All-Boeing XiamenAir Welcomes Airbus A321 Fleet
XiamenAir announced that starting January 2022, the airline will introduce 15 new Airbus A321s into its fleet. The airline is currently the largest carrier with only Boeing aircraft in China. There have long been discussions about XiamenAir intending to introduce Airbus jets into its fleet, and now, with the Boeing 737 MAX still grounded in China, Airbus jets will be used for the airline to expand its domestic network.
The airline is a subsidiary of China Southern, the second-largest Airbus A321 operator in the world. According to Planespotters.net, XiamenAir currently operates 165 Boeing jets, and it has 17 Boeing 737 MAX parked in the U.S., ready to be delivered. The mid-sized carrier’s plan to add 15 Airbus A321s will fill the gap caused by the delayed handover of its 737 MAX aircraft.
XimanenAir is a subsidiary of China Southern, and the parent company is expected to provide strong support, so that its subsidiary can start the A321 operations in 2 months. XiamenAir has had no addition to its fleet since March 2019, when the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded globally. Nowadays, as the pandemic continues to soar around the world, and international travel is limited in-and-out of China, XiamenAir is placing its bet on China’s domestic markets for its growth.
The news would be inspirational for Airbus, as the company successfully made the sale to an airline that was loyal to its competitor since the beginning. For Boeing, however, the news is another blow for the company to convince the Chinese government to get its 737 MAX back in the air. The Boeing 737 MAX is still grounded in China, after almost three years since devastating crashes involving the jet occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
As XiamenAir chooses the Airbus A321 to join its fleet, there are news about other major all-Boeing and all-Airbus carriers in China working to diversify their fleet. Shandong Airlines, an Air China subsidiary that operates 134 Boeing 737 series aircrafts, was reportedly considering adding Airbus A330 to its fleet before the global pandemic. Shandong Airlines was the largest airline in China without wide-body jets. Another major airline, Sichuan Airlines, based in Chengdu, China, currently only operates Airbus aircraft, and was considering Boeing 777F for its freight operations. However, the carrier eventually chose the Airbus A330F to move forward, for lower operating costs.
Airbus A321 are highly acclaimed by Chinese carriers. The three largest carriers, Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern all operate sizable A321 fleets, and hold A321neo orders on hand. As Chinese carriers adopt a point-to-point network instead of a hub network, aircraft with medium capacity and long range is desired by carriers to expand their network. Airbus A321 is a perfect candidate for the task. The Boeing 737 MAX posed a strong competitor with the Airbus A321 in China’s market, however, Boeing has not made any sales of its most popular single-aisle aircraft since the grounding. In the future, the Boeing 737 MAX will also face the challenge from the Airbus A220 family, as Airbus is actively advertising its new product to Chinese carriers.