Air China has ordered 20 Airbus A350s, adding to 10 in service and providing potential replacements for carrier’s oldest long-haul aircraft.

Deliveries will run from 2020 to 2022. All are earmarked as A350-900s, but the last five to be delivered can be switched to the -1000 version, the airline said.

The order has a list-price value of $6.5 billion.

Apart from four Boeing 747-400s, of which one is in storage, Air China’s oldest group of long-haul passenger aircraft are 30 A330-200s with an average age of 10.3 years, according to Aviation Week’s Fleet Discovery database.

Since Chinese airlines tend not to keep aircraft very long, retirements from that group in the early 2020s would not be surprising. Also, the A330-200s are now insufficiently large for some of the routes that Air China is using them on, industry sources said. 

Deliveries of the first 10 A350s began in August 2018. Air China also has 29 A330-300s, seven Boeing 748-8s, 28 777-300ERs and 11 787s.

Bradley Perrett,