China Airlines Takes Delivery Of Its First Boeing 777 Freighter

China Airlines has taken delivery of its first Boeing 777 freighter. The plane is the first of six that the Taiwan-based airline ordered last year. China Airlines rolled out its first 777 freighter on Tuesday to coincide with its 61st birthday.

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China Airlines received its first Boeing 777 freighter yesterday. Photo: Boeing

“We are honored to strengthen our partnership with China Airlines as they continue to build one of the world’s most dynamic freighter fleets,” said Boeing Sales and Marketing Executive, Ihssane Mounir.

“With the global air cargo fleet expected to grow by more than 60% over the next 20 years, the unmatched efficiency of the 777 Freighter will significantly boost China Airlines’ air cargo capabilities and enable them to scale their world-class cargo operations.”

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China Airlines first 777 freighter unveiled on Tuesday

The plane, registered as B-18771, was ferried to Taipei from Boeing’s Everett Field at the start of December. According to Planespotters.net, the 777 has sat quietly at the airport for the past fortnight. But on Tuesday, both Boeing and China Airlines brought out the PR artillery and officially unveiled the aircraft.

“The efficiency and capability of the 777 Freighter enables us to modernize our freighter fleet, while also allowing us to increase capacity and open into new markets,” said Hsieh Su-Chien, China Airlines Chairman.

According to reports, China Airlines will send its new freighters primarily on routes to Europe and North America. It also marks the end of China Airlines exclusively using Boeing 747s for freight. The airline has 18 of those, all between 13 and 20 years old. As the new Boeing 777 freighters come into service, China Airlines plans to start retiring its older 747 freighters.

Strong demand for freight flights at China Airlines

The airline has a further five 777 freighters to come and expects two more by the end of January 2021. The remaining three freighters will arrive at China Airlines by 2023.

“Air cargo demand has risen in light of the global pandemic and has played a critical role in maintaining profitability for our airline despite the downturn in passenger traffic,” said Hsieh Su-Chien.

The new Boeing 777 freighters have a maximum payload of 102,010 kg. The jets can fly 9,200 kilometers and, like the older China Airlines 747s, can carry tall and outsized cargo loads on three-meter tall pallets. This common main-deck pallet height capability enables interchangeable pallets.

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The Boeing 777s will replace older Boeing 747 freighters. Photo: Getty Images

The China Airlines 777 freighters will have fully temperature-controlled cargo holds. The main cargo deck can utilize cargo pallet restraint systems, facilitating flights carrying semiconductor machinery and engines.

This year, China Airlines has increased its regular freighter flight schedules by 20% and swung parked passenger planes into action, using their belly holds and cabin space to fly cargo. Cargo revenues at China Airlines increased 83% this year compared to 2019, helping prop up passenger services. Capitalizing on demand, China Airlines plans to increase its cargo capacity by 15% in 2021.

A new look for China Airlines

This new 777 freighter is also notable for being among the first China Airlines aircraft with updated livery. There has been a concerted campaign within Taiwan to change the airlines’ name to help disassociate China Airlines from mainland Chinese airlines. Taiwan’s Transportation Committee (China Airlines is 45% owned by the Taiwanese Government) hasn’t yet agreed to that but has agreed to alter logos and livery to better reflect China Airlines’ Taiwanese origins.

The name “China Airlines” has been significantly reduced and moved to near the tail of B-18771. Where the name “China Airlines” traditionally was, there is now a large sky-blue “Cargo” with a map of Taiwan embedded into the capital C. So far, much like any changes to logos, the new-look China Airlines has received a mixed response.

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