Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern all received their first ARJ21 aircraft in Shanghai on Sunday. These jets were incredibly special for COMAC, which stands for the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. Each of these small jets seat 90 passengers and signify China’s attempt to break into the regional commercial aviation market.
Until now, the ARJ21 has only flown for smaller, regional airlines. Now, with these big three carriers adopting them, the ARJ21s will gain some international prominence with major airlines flying them in China. Plus, most likely, a decent number of foreign passengers may end up connecting to destinations in China onboard these aircraft.
In an announcement viewed by Simple Flying, the manufacturer announced that all three aircraft have an all-economy 90 seat configuration. Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern are all anticipated to take three ARJ21s this year.
All three airlines announced simultaneous orders for 35 ARJ21 jets on August 30th, 2019. The deals were valued at over $1.3 billion each, based on a $38 million-per-aircraft price. Although, carriers likely received a decent discount on the aircraft.
Per the release, Air China expects to use the ARJ21 to expand its route network. Much of this is likely to be to smaller regional destinations in China that are currently underserved or not on Air China’s current route map. Based on the configuration of the jet, Air China will likely avoid putting this aircraft on key domestic links where there would be intense competition and business demand.
Based out of Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport, the aircraft will not promote much feed to China Eastern’s primary operations based out of Shanghai’s Pudong, which is also where COMAC maintains an ARJ21 production line. Instead, these planes will help supplement domestic routes and operations.
Much like Air China and China Eastern, China Southern has worked to ensure a smooth induction of the ARJ21 into the airline’s fleet. According to COMAC, China Southern has completed preparations for pilot and flight attendant training.
While the delivery of the first ARJ21s to the largest Chinese airlines is a step forward, COMAC still has plenty of work to do to make the type palatable to international customers.
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