China Eastern Airlines to buy 15 787 Dreamliners from Boeing

Boeing South Carolina workers assemble aft-body sections for the 787 in North Charleston, where a union drive is underway. File/Staff 

China Eastern Airlines on Thursday finalized an order for 15 787-9 Dreamliners to strengthen the Asian carrier’s expanding long-haul fleet, the Boeing Co. announced.

The order is valued at nearly $4 billion at list prices, although airlines typically negotiate better deals.

“The addition of these next-generation, fuel-efficient airplanes will play a key role in supporting China Eastern’s strategy for international expansion, and enable us to realize profits in point-to-point routes across the Pacific Ocean, and between China and Europe,” Liu Shaoyong, China Eastern Airlines’ chairman, said in a statement.

The carrier also plans to increase frequencies on existing routes from Shanghai to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, as well as a newly launched destination, Chicago. The routes are currently operated by the airline’s flagship 777-300ER airplane.

“China Eastern has been a long-standing Boeing customer and we are honored that the passenger-preferred 787 Dreamliner will join their world-class fleet,” Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of Boeing’s Northeast Asia sales, said in a statement. “The combination of both the 777-300ER and 787-9 will provide the airline with market-leading economics as well as flexibility that will contribute significantly to their success operating long-haul flights to North America.”

Headquartered in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines is one of the three major airlines in mainland China. Flying a fleet of over 560 long-haul and short-haul airplanes with an average age of less than seven years, China Eastern serves nearly 100 million travelers annually and ranks the 7th largest carriers in the world in terms of passenger transportation volume.

More than 60 customers from six continents have placed orders for more than 1,100 787s, making the Dreamliner the fastest selling twin-aisle airplane in Boeing history. The company makes the Dreamliner at its North Charleston campus and in Everett, Wash.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_