Eva Air from Taiwan joins Star Alliance

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Founded just over 16 years ago, Star Alliance has progressively built its presence in Asia/Pacific and now has eight member carriers based in this region, which continues to show a growing demand in air travel, posting 5.2% growth in 2012.

EVA Air from Taiwan today joins the Star Alliance network, further strengthening the Alliance’s presence in Asia/Pacific. At the official joining ceremony held at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Mark Schwab, CEO Star Alliance said: “EVA Air has successfully completed all joining requirements and I can confirm that our Chief Executive Board (CEB) has now unanimously accepted EVA Air into our Alliance.”

At present, 19 Star Alliance member airlines operate more than 4,000 daily flights to, from and within the Asia/Pacific region, serving 280 airports in 44 countries.

“Star Alliance has since its inception had a strong presence in Asia/Pacific. With the addition of EVA Air to our existing combinations of member carriers and hubs, we further cement our position of providing the strongest network on an international scale to, from and within this ever growing region. We are looking forward to welcoming new customers from Taiwan and serving more travelers on the expanding Cross-Straits market,” Schwab said.

Austin Cheng, President, EVA Air, said: “Star Alliance membership gives us the privilege of serving new customers from all corners of the globe and introducing our passengers to the seamless services and status recognition that the Alliance provides. As a member, we have the opportunity to introduce travelers to new ways of connecting to destinations throughout Asia via our hub in Taipei.”

Ms. Wang Yingxiang, Vice Chairman of Air China Group, said: “On behalf of Air China I wish to congratulate EVA Air on their Star Alliance membership. This will enable the airline to further enhance its brand value, social influence and operations. EVA Air will add new strength into the Star Alliance network, expanding its network to Taiwan and offering travelers more convenience and choice.”

Star Alliance was founded with the mission of providing seamless global air travel for the high value international traveler. EVA Air’s customers will now have access to a global network of 28 airlines, operating more than 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries. In addition to bringing Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Surabaya in Indonesia as unique airports to the network, EVA Air expands the Alliance’s presence on the important Cross-Straits market, which has grown from an annual passenger volume of just over 3 million in 2009 to around 9 million in 2012. Moreover, Taiwan’s geographic location is such that it has the shortest average distance to all major cities in the Asia-Pacific region, making Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport an important hub in the region. In total, Star Alliance now offers 10 hubs across Asia/Pacific: Tokyo – Narita and Haneda, Seoul – Incheon, Beijing, Shanghai – Pudong, Taipei – Taoyuan, Shenzhen, Bangkok, Singapore and Auckland.

EVA Air now offers through check-in to the final destination for connecting flights operated by any Star Alliance member airline for both passengers and baggage, hence providing seamless travel. Passengers benefit as they do not need to collect their boarding passes for connecting flights at the transfer airports and, where permitted by local customs regulations, baggage will also be sent through to the final destinations.

Members in EVA Air Infinity MileageLands Frequent Flyer Program (FFP) will now be able to collect and redeem miles on all Star Alliance member airlines. MileageLands Diamond and Gold Card holders now enjoy Star Alliance Gold Status which entitles customers to such privileges as access to more than 1,000 lounges across the globe, extra baggage allowance on all Star Alliance member airlines as well as priority baggage delivery. FFP members from all other Star Alliance member airlines can also now make use of these when traveling on EVA Air.

As part of their Star Alliance membership, EVA Air now participates in several of the Alliance’s fare products. For the business travel sector, EVA Air flights can be included in Star Alliance Corporate Plus agreements which are aimed at large multinational companies. With foreign trade driving Taiwanese industrial growth for the last 40 years, many multinational companies are based on the island nation. For the Conventions and Meetings market, EVA Air now offers Star Alliance Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus, the dedicated products for the meetings and conventions industry, which holds more than 200 events in Taiwan per year. EVA Air also boosts the attractiveness of the Alliance’s most popular fare product, the Star Alliance Round the World Fare (RTW). Available in First, Business and Economy Class, this fare allows customers to travel around the globe making use of the 28 member airline network. Customers can now make use of all EVA Air flights when booking their RTW fare, either through the Book & Fly online booking tool, via an airline or through a travel agency.

With Taiwan forming part of the Pacific Rim, EVA Air now offers the Star Alliance Circle Pacific Fare which allows circular round-trips covering the Asian countries bordering the Pacific, the main international hub airports on the Pacific Coast of Canada and the USA, as well as the South Pacific (mainly Australia and New Zealand).

Last but not least, EVA Air is now included in the Asia Airpass alongside all other Asia based Star Alliance member airlines. This special coupon and mileage based fare is available to all overseas visitors to the region travelling on a Star Alliance member airline and allows customers to travel around Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam).

EVA Air is largely privately owned and flies a fully international route network. It is the second largest Taiwanese airline, next in size to its main rival, China Airlines. EVA Air is headquartered in Lujhu, Taoyuan County.

Since its founding in 1989 as an affiliate of shipping conglomerate Evergreen Group, EVA Air has expanded to include air cargo, airline catering, ground handling, and aviation engineering services. Its cargo arm, EVA Air Cargo, links with the Evergreen worldwide shipping network on sea and land. Its domestic and regional subsidiary, UNI Air, operates a medium and short-haul network based in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. EVA Air is the 6th safest international airline in the world, with no hull losses and fatalities since its establishment.

EVA Air operates a mixed fleet of Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas aircraft, with Airbus A330, Boeing 747, and Boeing 777 airliners primarily used on passenger routes, along with Boeing 747 and MD-11 freighters used on cargo routes. The airline was one of the first carriers to introduce the premium economy class, which it debuted in 1991. EVA Air’s slogan is “Sharing the World, Flying Together.”

In September 1988, during the 20th anniversary celebration of Evergreen Marine Corporation’s founding, company chairman Chang Yung-fa announced his company’s intentions to establish Taiwan’s first private international airline. The opportunity to create a major Taiwanese airline had just arisen following a decision by the Taiwanese government to liberalize the country’s air transportation system government requirements still mandated global experience and financial capital requirements for any company seeking permission to initiate international airline service from Taiwan.

Upon recipient of regulatory approval, EVA Airways Corporation was formally established in March 1989 The airline was originally to be called Evergreen Airways, however this was deemed too similar to the unrelated Evergreen International cargo airline.

In October 1989, the newly formed EVA Airways Corporation placed a US$3.6 billion order for 26 aircraft from Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, including Boeing 747-400 and MD-11 airliners. Operations began on July 1, with a small fleet of EVA Air Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring business and economy class seating.

Initial destinations from Taipei were Bangkok, Seoul, Jakarta, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. By the end of the year, the EVA Air network had expanded to include additional cities in East Asia and its first European destination, Vienna First year revenues reached US$40 million.

In 1992, EVA Air received the first of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft on order, and launched its premium economy class, “Economy Deluxe”, on its 747 transpacific flights to Los Angeles, beginning in December of that year. EVA Air’s premium economy cabin, one of the first in the airline industry, featured a wider 2-4-2 abreast configuration, leg rests, individual seatback video, and enhanced meal services. EVA Air’s Economy Deluxe cabin (later renamed “Evergreen Deluxe” and “Elite Class”) proved popular with the traveling public. For international services, EVA Air’s 747s were configured with 104 premium economy seats as part of a 370-seat, four-class cabin, in addition to first, business and economy classes. In 1993, EVA Air added flights to Seattle, New York, Bangkok and Vienna with the Boeing 747-400.

EVA Air Boeing 747-400 in original livery (1991–2003)
By 1994, EVA Air was providing regular service to 22 destinations worldwide, and carrying over 3 million passengers annually. In 1995, the airline posted its first profit on revenues of US$1.05 billion, one year ahead of schedule.

Internationally, EVA Air’s rapid expansion and increased passenger volume was boosted by its safety record, in contrast to its primary competitor, China Airlines. In addition to receiving IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certification, EVA Air in 1997 achieved simultaneous official ISO 9002 certification in the areas of Passenger, Cargo, and Maintenance Services.

Dedicated EVA Air Cargo operations began in April 1995, with the first weekly McDonnell Douglas MD-11 freighter flights to Taipei, Singapore, Penang, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. EVA Air Cargo’s fleet was expanded to five freighters by the end of the year. Previously, EVA Air Cargo operations mainly relied on passenger aircraft cargo space.

In the mid–1990s, EVA Air expanded into the domestic Taiwan market by acquiring shares in Makung International Airlines, followed by Great China Airlines and Taiwan Airways. On July 1, 1998, all three carriers, as well as EVA’s existing domestic operations, merged under the UNI Air title. UNI Air became EVA Air’s domestic intra-Taiwanese subsidiary, operating short-haul flights out of its base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s southern port and second-largest city.

Maturation in the early 2000s
In 2000, EVA Air embarked on its first major long-haul fleet renewal. The airline became one of the launch customers for the Boeing 777-300ER, ordering four aircraft plus eight options. At the same time, the airline placed three orders for the Boeing 777-200LR. In January 2001, EVA Air ordered its first Airbus aircraft, the A330-200. The Boeing 777 aircraft were intended for United States and European services, while the Airbus A330 aircraft were intended for regional Asian routes.

EVA Air’s long-haul flagship, the Boeing 777-300ER
In 2001, EVA Air began listing public stock offerings on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Initially, one percent of the company’s shares were offered over-the-counter, with one-quarter held by parent company Evergreen Marine Corporation and EVA Air employees, respectively. In 2002, EVA Air underwent internal corporate reforms, with staff reductions and streamlined management.

This culminated a process which had begun in 1997, when the Asian currency crisis began affecting profitability. The 2002–2003 SARS contagion also affected passenger traffic for medium-haul flights in Southeast Asia, while long-haul flights to North America, Japan, and Europe were less affected.

In 2004, EVA Air converted its remaining eight options for Boeing 777-300ERs into firm orders. The first Boeing 777-300ER entered service as EVA Air’s new flagship aircraft in July 2005. With the arrival of its new Boeing 777s, EVA Air launched a comprehensive revamp of its cabins, introducing lie-flat seats in its new Premium Laurel business class cabin, and upgrading its premium economy product to the new Elite Class cabin. The airline’s A330s were introduced with two-class Premium Laurel and Economy cabins. In December 2005, EVA Air and its associated divisions had 5,098 employees, and the airline’s network spanned 40 passenger destinations worldwide, with additional cargo destinations.

Repositioning in the late 2000s
In 2007, EVA Air announced a nonstop Taipei to New York (Newark) service, to be operated with its new long-range Boeing 777-300ERs. At the same time, the airline withdrew passenger service from Taipei to Paris. On Oct. 31, 2008, EVA Air announced a resumption of Taipei to Paris service with thrice-weekly passenger flights beginning January 21, 2009. In 2008, the airline also announced the suspension of services to Auckland. The carrier also prepared to increase direct flights to China, after initiating weekly charter flights in July 2008 following changes to the Three Links travel agreements.

EVA Air Airbus A330-200 in “Hello Kitty” livery
For the 2007–2008 period, EVA Air coped with a 34% surge in fuel prices, which contributed to a US$61.2 million 2007 loss.

In August 2008, EVA Air reported a second quarterly loss due to increased fuel costs. In response, the airline implemented cost-saving measures, including flight schedule reductions and fee increases. In early 2008, EVA Air’s business office in El Segundo, California, announced a major staff reduction, with over half the staff advised that they would no longer be employed by May 2008.

Functions performed by those local staff were first shifted to Taiwan, some of which (such as reservation call center) were then later on moved to China.

EVA Air carried 6.2 million passengers in 2007, and employed 4,800 as of April 2008. The carrier returned to profitability in the first quarter of 2009, with a US$5.9 million net gain In August 2010, EVA Air was named to the top 10 list of international airlines in Travel+Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.

Recent developments
In 2010, EVA Air released a newsflash about their service to Toronto, which began on March 29, 2010. In November 2010, EVA Air began nonstop flights connecting the inner-city Taipei Songshan and Tokyo Haneda airports. In 2010, Chang Kuo-wei, son of Chang Yung-fa, returned to serve as EVA Air’s president, and the carrier recorded increased sales and yearly profits. In early 2011, the carrier announced that it had applied for airline alliance membership with Star Alliance, and later that year clarified that it was in talks to join either Oneworld or Star Alliance by 2013.In June 2011, the carrier began nonstop flights from Taipei to Guam, and in October 2011 the carrier announced nonstop service from New York (JFK) to Taipei.

On March 27, 2012, EVA Air announced that it would join Star Alliance in 2013 On September 24, 2012 EVA Air signed a partnership with Amadeus IT Group Altea suite for its Altea Revenue Management system.

On June 18, 2013, EVA Air became a full member of Star Alliance.