Taiwan's China Airlines considers Airbus order as a means to winning French traffic rights

China Airlines is weighing an order for Airbus aircraft that it expects will result in the French state granting traffic rights to allow China Airlines to fly to Paris, providing competition to China Airlines' local competitor EVA Air – the only nonstop operator on the route.

Since a 2016 government change in Taiwan, China Airlines – long a sleepy government airline – has shown greater interest in growth. However,  Europe is not a strong market for the airline. In Paris there is opportunity to work with fellow SkyTeam member Air France. This potentially makes Paris less costly for China Airlines than its planned resumption of service to London.

China Airlines is once again planning a narrowbody order to replace and supplement its existing 737-800 fleet. The order will reflect how optimistic China Airlines is about the turbulent cross-strait market.

The A320neo is favoured, and it is unclear whether an order might also mean that China Airlines exercises its six options for the A350. China Airlines has received five of a 2008 order for 14 A350s. The correlation between Airbus aircraft orders and French traffic rights is sensitive, but this is hardly the first example. Taiwan and the US, home to Boeing, have an open skies agreement.

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