CAL's signing ceremony with Airbus Industrie's Vice Chairman John Leahy will be tomorrow Thursday 12 August at 3pm in Taipei.
Taiwan news media is reporting this will be for 7 A340-300 aircraft. Options will be announced at the ceremony, which are expected to add a minimum of 1 additional A340, as well as 4 A330-300 models. More will be coming out in the media tomorrow.
The 777 order is indeed -history-. CAL's Chairman said on Saturday that the A340 was selected for several reasons. "Safety, price, better financing, after sales support" to name a few. The "safety" reasoning in that should be an interesting one to explore later on as this deal is analyzed.
Maybe CAL believed the 777 carried some risks they were not prepared to have or accept on long range flights, particularly trans-pacific and the routing CAL has to use. This is very important to realize.
It also wants the capability to fly unhindered on long range flights to Europe, currently requiring stops at Abu Dhabi and Bangkok. Some of the routing CAL must make also is in reference to it's political situation with many countries not recognizing it, and most probably pressure from the PRC on those countries to deny access to these countries airspace.
If one doesnt believe or has a hard time understanding that, then one needs to look at the fit they threw over JAL, Qantas, British Airways, KLM, Air France, Swissair and others who flew to Taiwan and the PRC, threatening their landing rights in China if they didnt stop their flights to Taiwan. What happened instead were many mini-airline subsidiaries created like Japan Asia, Australia Asia, British Asia Airways, Swissair Asia, KLM Asia, Air France Asie, and even CAL joinng along so it could maintain it's lucrative routes with Mandarin (a CAL Subsidiary) etc..so flights could be still maintained, albeit with different names.
This goes to expose the level of intricate maneuvering Taiwan and it's airlines have to go thru. It's also quite similar to the bullsh*t El Al put up with in the 70s and 80s.
If one remembers, CAL ordered the 747SP in the 70s so it could achieve long distance flying with an airplane capable of doing so nonstop from Taipei to New York, on the westbound leg flying thru Anchorage. Why? Primarily for that very problem with routing and politics..thanks to the tantrums of the Mao Jacketed Thugs in Beijing.
So this in retrospect could very well be a case of history repeating itself in some ways, while it also wants to upgrade and renew it's fleet with what it views is it's best, most capable choice. The 777 may have been right for some routes, but in the long view it may have been hamstrung with several technical problems with specific reference to ETOPS and the routing given Taiwan's political position.
It would not make sense to order an airplane, no matter how fine it is, if it cant fly the routes -you have to fly-.
CAL is not in an advantageous position like UAL or NWA, with overflights of the Soviet Union on the new flight tracks Polar One, Polar Two and now the new Polar Three. One must sit back and look at it and understand there are factors quite different to consider.
Some words to ponder over.