As more Taiwanese travel internationally, competition is intensifying in the nation’s aviation market. In particular, carriers are vying for a greater share of long-haul flights to North America and Europe as well as Southeast Asia routes.
Amidst these market conditions, China Airlines had added Airbus’s new A350-900 to its fleet. The A350-900 is praised for being the aircraft that is the “most high-tech, most energy efficient, most eco-friendly, most spacious and least noisy,” according to the airline. The cabin is composed of three classes, with 32 seats in Premium Business, 31 seats in Premium Economy, and 243 seats in Economy Class. China Airlines is the first airline to fly the A350 to San Francisco, offering service to the California city 11 times a week, including flights CI-4 and CI-3 daily.
The China Airlines NexGen A350 fleet has received numerous awards since its launch. Those include Japan’s Good Design Award, Best Business Class Seat Design from the renowned U.S. travel magazine Global Traveler, as well as TheDesignAir Readers Poll Awards 2016 and the The Design Air Awards 2016 from the international aviation design website TheDesignAir.
In an email to Taiwan Business TOPICS, China Airlines noted said that “in 2017, further restrictions on Chinese travel to Taiwan as well as intense competition in the Japanese and Korean markets means oversupply is now inevitable. In response, CAL will cooperate with the government’s New Southbound Policy to channel effective capacity into promising Southeast Asian destinations.”
In addition, China Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus in January and was awarded AS9110 Certification by the French Standardization Association (AFNOR) in June. China Airlines expects to become an authorized Airbus aircraft maintenance service supplier by the end of 2017. “The growing demand for aircraft maintenance from Airbus customers in Asia-Pacific region should lead to new business opportunities,” the company said by email.
Meanwhile, to enhance its offerings on long-haul flights, United Airlines introduced its new Polaris business class in December. Exclusive to United, the individual suite-like pods were “designed to ensure passengers have the best possible sleep…with the aspiration to make weary business travel a relic of the past.”
The pods include a large number of amenities to facilitate ample shuteye: custom bedding and slippers, pajamas on flights over 12 hours, gel-cooled pillows, and amenity kits with ergonomically designed eye shades.
United has also introduced United Polaris lounges exclusively for international premium cabin travelers, a first for a U.S. carrier. Passengers traveling in international first or business class cabins on Star Alliance partner airlines will also have access to the United Polaris lounges, which will be available at the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow airports.
The lounges provide multiple dining and drinking options. Highlights include a multi-course menu developed by award-winning chef Art Smith, a large buffet with chef-created small plates, and handcrafted cocktails designed by mixologist Adam Seger.