20 AST-2X Phoenix ordered by China Eastern Airlines Latest generation of towbarless aircraft tow tractors

Founded in 1988, the airline China Eastern Airlines (CEA) – with its main hub at Shanghai Pudong Airport – serves all domestic destinations in China as well as numerous Asian destinations and airports in North America, Australia and Europe. With a fleet of 572 aircraft and more than 80 million passengers carried each year (December 31, 2016), the predominantly state-owned company (61.64% People's Republic of China, 38.36% other shareholders) currently ranks seventh worldwide in terms of fleet size and passenger numbers. In the past two years in particular, the airline has greatly expanded and modernized its fleet with the addition of more than 150 aircraft.

In order to be able to cope with the resulting increase in air traffic and speed up handling in the future, especially at the Shanghai hub, a total of 20 AST-2X Phoenix tow tractors from the house of Goldhofer were ordered for the city’s two airports at the beginning of 2018: 12 for Shanghai-Pudong and 8 for Shanghai-Hongqiao. Goldhofer's towbarless tractors guarantee high availability and, thanks to the use of low-wear components, minimum maintenance requirements. With a towing speed of up to 32 km/h under full load and a differential lock for optimum traction in a wide range of conditions, the new Phoenix can handle pick-up in under a minute.

In addition to greater efficiency, the latest investment by CEA, which has set itself the ambitious goal of reducing its emissions on a sustainable basis, also has a focus on protecting the environment. The decisive factor in choosing Phoenix was therefore its drive system, which features the most modern and cleanest Tier 4 final engine currently available.

Lothar Holder, Head of Goldhofer Airport Technology, says: “We are delighted that, on the basis of their consistently positive experiences with our products, the CEA management is now also opting for the AST-2X Phoenix as the next generation of Goldhofer aircraft tow tractors. Our thanks also go to our dealer BeDe in Beijing, who was behind this transaction with a total order volume of over USD 10 million.”