The history of Shanghai Airlines has been covered previously:
Shanghai Airlines built its future on the Boeing 757-200 and a strong relationship with Boeing products including later the 767-300, 737-700 and 737-800. The only non-Boeing passenger aircraft operated by Shanghai was a quintet of Bombardier CRJ-200s - a market segment Boeing was absent from. Shanghai even took the very last new 757-200s from the delivery line in 2003.
Aircraft purchasing for Chinese airlines can be a bit scattershot due to the government's involvement in procurement. This has decreased in recent years but is one of the primary reasons for the mixed fleet types of the Chinese majors, though admittedly their fleets are so large nowadays that commonality is less of an issue with the sub-fleets so huge. Nevertheless it was perhaps a considerable surprise that Shanghai Airlines chose the Airbus A321 over the Boeing 737-900ER, which would have had commonality with Shanghai's substantial fleet of 737NGs. Interestingly the 737-900 and 900ER have made almost no sales in China.
The 737-900ER entered service with launch customer Lion Air on April 27, 2007, however on August 31 the board of Shanghai Airlines approved an order with Airbus EADs for 5 A321s at a list price of $370 million. This order is perhaps symptomatic of the 737-900s continuing relative inferiority to the A321, which appears to be alive and well even with the 737MAX and A320NEO and has sparked much discussion of a new middle of market (MOM) offering.
The first A321 was delivered to Shanghai on July 17, 2009 and was followed by three more aircraft at a rather leisurely pace over the next 8 months. The A321s looked excellent in Shanghai's 2007 livery. Unfortunately by the time the A321s had been delivered Shanghai (as well as other Chinese airlines) was reeling from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and in serious trouble. The result of this was a merger with its much larger Shanghai neighbour China Eastern in July 2009, although Shanghai would keep its brand and independence.
Accordingly fleet rationalisation made some sense and the A321s all transferred to China Eastern, to join its already large fleet of the type, not long after delivery. The 5th A321 of the original order became B-6668 when completed in July 2010 and went straight into China Eastern colours. Only the first aircraft, B-6591, saw more than a year's service whilst B-6642 saw less than 1 months.
As mentioned already Shanghai benefitted from the deal with China Eastern and has since received a small fleet of Airbus A330s from them for trunk routes. Even so the A321s came first and make an interesting contrast to the 737s wearing this scheme.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: