Air Transport World

The stealth airline: publicity-shy EVA Airways is building a presence in the Asia/Pacific region despite the aeropolitical challenges of operating from Taiwan. .(Company Profile)

Twelve years after its first 767 took to the air in 1991, EVA Air quietly has pushed itself into the second tier of Asia's leading airlines. It has achieved this in spite of the geopolitical hurdles of operating from Taiwan and while generally eschewing the media spotlight that has served other new entrants so well. But with a route network encompassing 220 weekly roundtrips to 40 destinations on four continents and an all-widebody fleet numbering 41 aircraft, EVA may find it harder to stay under the radar in the future.

The carrier's creation was announced in September 1988 during the 20th anniversary celebration of Evergreen Marine Corp. following a decision by the Taiwanese government to shake up China Airlines by liberalizing the country's air transportation system. Founded by former Taiwanese sailor Chang Yung-fa with a secondhand cargo vessel, Evergreen has grown into one of the world's largest container shipping companies with 150 vessels.

From the beginning, EVA Air has focused heavily on developing both its cargo and passenger businesses. Given its lineage, this is not surprising, but some say it also is because Chang viewed air cargo as his entree into mainland China and a cargo-oriented airline as rounding our his offerings in the booming freight market.

Evergreen certainly has the mainland firmly in sight; subsidiary Uniglory Marine's Uni Order in 1997 became the first commercial ship in 50 years to sail between Taiwan and China. EVA even offers a direct sea-air export service in partnership with Uniglory through which containers are shipped from Xiamen to Kaohsiung, trucked to Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport and loaded onto EVA jets for onward transport. More than 250 tonnes a month are shipped in this manner. Transit time from Xiamen to Los Angeles is about 35 hr. Last year, Chang registered the holding companies for Evergreen Marine, Uniglory and EVA as British and Italian entities in what was seen as a step toward establishing full trade links with China.

EVA's focus on air cargo is reflected in the fact that it is the only airline in Asia with a stated goal of splitting revenues equally between cargo and passengers. …

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