China Eastern set for organisational and operational revamp post stake sale to SIA

China Eastern Airlines (CEA) has asked the Chinese government to allocate 40 of the 110 A320 family aircraft Beijing recently agreed to purchase from Airbus to the airlines, and is also contemplating ordering a similar number of Boeing 737s. The airline's chairman, Li Fenghua, also said that it plans to give Singapore Airlines executives significant management roles following next month's expected closing of SIA, and parent Temasek's, 24% stake purchase.

Li also told Reuters that CEA has formally asked the government for 40 A320s that were part of the recent Airbus/China accord but conceded that it is "still uncertain how many we will get." He added that the carrier has had discussions with Boeing regarding fleet expansion and may order up to 40 737s.

CEA has already announced that SIA chairman, Stephen Lee, and CEO, Chew Choon Seng, will join an expanded CEA board. SIA will also send ten personnel from various departments to work side-by-side with CEA, mainly in product development, sales and marketing and treasury operations. According to Li, the personnel will actually be on permanent secondment to China Eastern.

Li further said that the SIA officials assigned to CEA "will have sufficient authority to implement the changes they see as necessary. As chairman, I will see that this happens. They are not coming just to be advisers. Otherwise, we could have just employed consultants."

It is expected that 20 CEA managers will spend six months in Singapore following the stake purchase to study SIA's management strategies and operations, he said.