China’s “big three” carriers — Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines — each took delivery of their first Comac ARJ21 regional jets on Sunday.
Each of the 90-seater narrow-body jets were delivered in Shanghai, with Comac stating the move marks “the official entry of the ARJ21 … into mainstream international airline fleets”.
The manufacturer also added that the ARJ21 will “play a positive role” in the promotion of regional aircraft operations, which has been an increased focus of all three state-owned airlines.
Each company originally placed orders for 35 of the model apiece, making the overall deal worth some US$4 billion.
China Eastern plans to launch the aircraft as part of its freshly-minted subsidiary OTT Airlines – which will also operate Comac’s C919 narrowbody. OTT will take delivery of another six ARJ21s next year, and another eight by 2022.
Comac adds that each of the airlines have completed preparations for pilot and flight attendant training.
On June 28th, CEAir' subsidiary OTT Airlines has received the first China-developed ARJ21-700 airplane.With the support of CEAir, OTT Airlines will fully demonstrate the safety quality and advanced design of ARJ21 in operation, bringing passengers a comfortable flight experience. pic.twitter.com/2jJxWqd8v8
— China Eastern Airlines (@CEAirglobal) June 28, 2020
While the ARJ21 has been in operation since 2008, it has been limited to the Chinese domestic market. Operated by smaller regional carriers including Chengdu Airlines and Genghis Khan Airlines, it has yet to be embraced by airlines outside of China.
The ARJ21 is certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency, though it does not have approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration.