By Lei Yan
Air China Received Three New Airbus Aircraft at the End of 2021
On Dec. 31, 2021, Air China picked up an Airbus A320neo and an Airbus A321neo from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France. On the previous day, the flag carrier of China received a brand-new Airbus A350 from the manufacturer’s Tianjin, China facility. Air China set the ambitious goal to receive 55 jets in the year 2021, however, even with the 3 additions, the airline still fell short of the goal.
The two Airbus A320neo series jets will be based in Air China’s Chengdu, China hub. In June 2021, the city opened its second mega airport, Chengdu’s Tianfu International Airport, to support the continuously growing travel demand in-and-out of the region.
The newly delivered A350 will be based in Air China’s Beijing hub. This A350 is the third of its kind to be delivered from Airbus’s Tianjin, China facility. In July 2021, Airbus officially opened its Tianjin A350 finishing center and delivered its first A350 to China Eastern.
Air China fell short of its 2021 delivery target by 15 jets. In its financial reports, Air China laid out a 55 delivery plan for new aircraft in 2021. On top of the 23 jets delivered in H1 2021, Air China planned to add 32 jets to its fleet. The plan was laid out in the carrier’s mid-year report and its Q3 performance announcement, however, only 17 out of the 32 jets were received by Air China, based on initial statistics of the airline’s importation record.
Previously, in October and November of 2021, Air China received three Airbus A320neos, three Airbus A321neos, and one COMAC ARJ21-700. Boeing has long been missing from Air China’s delivery records. Tough Air China Group still holds a massive inventory of orders for Boeing 737Max. The jet has just finished its 45 months of grounding in China. Grounded 737Maxs in China are being unsealed, and hopefully to contribute to the travel rush near the spring festival.
The reason behind the missed target was largely attributed to China’s underperforming domestic markets in 2H 2021 due to Covid-19. The zero-tolerance policy against the virus limits travels from cities that had spot cases. International travel is still maintained at an extremely low level, as new variants of Covid-19 soar around the world.
Airbus also delivered two A350s to China Southern, Air China’s long-term competitor, at the end of 2021. The two new jets of China Southern will be based in Shenzhen, one of Air China’s strategic hubs.
In the previous reporting, Air China is planning to receive 34 jets in 2022, excluding any Boeing 737Max. With 737Max being reissued with Airworthiness certification in China, the number is expected to be much higher than 34. The additional capacity will come conveniently as China is also slowly relieving travel restrictions.
Aircraft manufacturers tend to accelerate the delivery of aircraft at year ends to boost their results. Airbus achieved its goal to deliver 600 jets in 2021. The manufacturer originally set its target at 566 jets and dialed up its target in mid of 2021 based on the optimistic outlook for the recovery of the aviation industry. Airbus is increasing the production capacity of its popular A320neo family from 60 per month to 65 per month, and possible for a further increase to 75 per month. The industry is fueling a swift rise in the coming years.