The Competition for Taiwan: China Airlines vs. EVA Air

EVA Air and China Airlines Boeing 777-300ERs at LAX (Photos: Hisham Qadri | AirlineGeeks)

Taiwan, known by its official title of the Republic of China, has gone through a period of rapid economic growth since the 1960s. While it may not be a member of the United Nations, it has grown to become a gateway to neighboring China as well as other major countries in Asia. Two major carriers, China Airlines and EVA Air, have further fueled this growth as they compete to be the dominant carrier based in Taiwan.

Background

China Airlines (CI) was founded in 1959 as the flag carrier of Taiwan with its shares held by the Taiwan government. As of now, the airline is owned by China Airlines Group. The airline is currently the largest airline of Taiwan and is headquartered at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).

With a fleet of 84 aircraft, including cargo, China Airlines serves 103 destinations across North America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with over 1400 weekly flights. The airline is part of the SkyTeam Alliance. 

EVA Air (BR) was founded thirty years after China Airlines in 1989 and is also based at Taipei Taoyuan. EVA is privately owned by Evergreen Group. The airline serves 77 destinations (including cargo) and has a fleet of 72 airplanes. As a member of Star Alliance, the airline has created various ties with its partner airlines, especially United Airlines, for connections in the United States. Its frequent flyer program is Infinity MileageLands.

Mixed Fleets Types and Colorful Special Liveries

China Airlines maintains a mixed fleet of both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The airline currently operates 24 Airbus A330-300s, one A340-300, four A350-900s with 10 orders, 21 Boeing 737-800s, six 747-400s, and 10 Boeing 777-300ERs. China Airlines’ A350 orders are planned to be used as a replacement for the A340 aircraft. With these aircraft come a variety of special liveries, including some of the more notable ones being the first co-branded Boeing 777 on one of its 777-300ERs, as well as a 747-400 featuring the SkyTeam Livery.

EVA Air also has a mixed fleet, with 22 A321-200s, five A330-200s, six A330-300s, three 747-400’,  and 30 777-300ERs.The 777-300 aircraft make up the backbone of the airline’s international routes and flights.  EVA is known for its “Hello Kitty Jets,” featuring the popular character, Hello Kitty. The first “Hello Kitty Jet” was launched in 2005 on an A330 aircraft, with a 777-300ER aircraft to soon follow. The seventh and final Hello Kitty jet, “Shining Star,” rolled out in 2015 on a Boeing 777-300ER. EVA’s future fleet plans include acquiring 787 variants, as well as more 777-300ER aircraft to replace their aging 747 fleet.

The seventh and final Hello Kitty jet, “Shining Star,” rolled out in 2015 on a Boeing 777-300ER. EVA’s future fleet plans include acquiring 787 variants, as well as more 777-300ER aircraft to replace their aging 747 fleet.

Varying Inflight Services

China Airlines offers a new business class on their 777-300ER and A350XWB aircraft. These seats are in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration, allowing aisle access to every passenger, as well as lie-flat seating. On these aircraft, the Sky Lounge, a self-service bar, offers snacks, drinks and more for passengers in flight. Premium economy is offered on the 777 and A350 in a 2-4-2 configuration. These seats include AVOD touchscreens, power outlets, amenity kits, slippers, along with other amenities

These seats include AVOD touchscreens, power outlets, amenity kits, slippers, along with other amenities. In economy on the carrier’s A350 and 777 aircraft, a few rows of three seats can be converted into a large, flat surface, called Family Couch. which is similar to Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch.

EVA Air, on select 777-300ER aircraft, features Royal Laurel Class, with 38 lie-flat reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. These aircraft are currently being used on the airline’s Taipei – North America routes. Elite Class, EVA’s premium economy, is a separate cabin on the airline’s 777 and 747 aircraft. Elite Class is in a 2-4-2 configuration and receives similar service to that of the carrier’s economy cabin. 

Two Airlines Expanding Rapidly in the U.S.

China Airlines currently flies to five destinations in North America, including Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and New York (JFK). EVA Airlines, on the other hand, flies to nine U.S. destinations, including Guam, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver. EVA’s most recent additions to its North America route map include Chicago and Houston due to its partnership with United. Such routes offer EVA’s passengers easy connections between North America, as well as South America through Houston.

In conclusion, both carriers have different ways in attracting their passengers. Each airline has been innovative in enhancing the passenger experience. For those residing in the United States, EVA Air tends to be the better airline, as the airline connects more destinations in the United States with Taiwan and the rest of Asia, removing more unnecessary connections.

For those on the West Coast, traveling to Asia has never been easier: each carrier has a plethora of flights, giving a traveler plenty of options. However, EVA Air has been rated by SkyTrax as a five-star airline, while China Airlines is currently a four-star airline. Both carriers are very competitive and offer top notch service. In the end, it’s up to the passenger to decide which carrier does it the best.

Samuel Chen

Ever since he made his first trip on a Boeing 747 in 2005, Samuel has been an AvGeek at heart. He is a dedicated United (ex-Continental) loyalist and frequent flier who attempts to live by Continental's slogan, "Work Hard, Fly Right." He has a huge love for the Boeing 777 along with any other Boeing wide body aircraft. Samuel is an avid collector of all types of airplane memorabilia ranging from model airplanes to in-flight magazines. In his free time, Samuel enjoys playing guitar and piano, and he is constantly on various airline websites scanning for any breaking news.
Samuel Chen