China Airlines has unveiled plans to launch non-stop flights from Taipei to Gatwick Airport using its new Airbus A350-900 XWBs.
The jets will be deployed on the 13-hour flights four times per week – operating Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – from December 1 and are equipped in a three-class configuration with 32 Premium Business, 31 Premium Economy and 243 Economy seats. The carrier says the new service will save between three and seven hours on transit and stop-over times previously experienced on its services to Europe.
China Airlines earlier operated a thrice-weekly service between Taipei and London/Heathrow which started in March 2010. However, load factors struggled at around 60% and the link was suspended just two years later. Currently, the Taiwanese carrier has a codeshare agreement with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines under which it flies passengers to Amsterdam, before transferring to the European carrier’s extensive network. It is understood that despite the resumption of the direct flights to Gatwick, the code sharing agreement with KLM will continue.
The timing of the Gatwick launch coincides with the Chian Airlines’ plan to take advantage of the Open Sky agreement with Australia that will see its Taipei-Sydney service increased to twice-daily from December 1. The carrier is also upgrading its Taipei-Brisbane-Auckland link to daily which, the airline says, strengthens the connection between Oceania and European networks providing transit customers with even more options.
China Airlines has taken delivery of six A350-900s to date the latest of which B-18907 (c/n 105) was handed over on May 24. The Taiwanese carrier expects to receive the final four examples of its ten-aircraft order before the end of this year.