China's COMAC Receives 105 Orders for ARJ21 Regional Jet
This past week, Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer Comac received three orders from three major Chinese airlines. Each order was for 35 Comac ARJ21 aircraft, the aircraft manufacturer's regional jet. The three orders bring the number of outstanding orders for Comac to 643 aircraft spanning two models.
According to a report from FlightGlobal, three major Chinese airlines, Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern each placed orders for 35 Comac ARJ21-70 aircraft. The deal is valued at an estimated $1.33 billion USD. Prior to last week's announcement, none of the airlines that placed an order for the 35 ARJ21-70 had previously ordered or taken delivery of the aircraft type.
The Comac ARJ21 is the state-owned aircraft manufacturer's first and only aircraft type to have entered into regularly scheduled commercial service. The ARJ21 made its first flight in 2008, receiving a handful of orders from airlines based entirely in China. The ARJ21 program later experienced numerous lengthy delays and setbacks. The first Comac ARJ21 was delivered in 2015 to Chengdu Airlines, a subsidiary of Sichuan Airlines operating entirely within China. Earlier this year, Genghis Khan Airlines, a small startup airline also based in China, was the second airline to receive the ARJ21.
The ARJ21 was designed to compete with other regional jets like the Bombardier CRJ-700 and Embraer E-Jet series. There is currently one model in service, the ARJ21-70. The ARJ21-70 features a capacity of 78 to 90 passengers with a maximum range of 1,400 for standard models or 2,300 miles for extended range models. While the ARJ21's fuselage closely resembles that of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90, Comac states that the aircraft was designed from the ground-up.
All three airlines that placed orders this past week released statements accompanying their orders. In short, each airline stated that the ARJ21 was ordered to address a demand in the regional short-haul market. China Eastern noted that the ARJ21 would allow the airline to "explore the development potential of the feeder market." Similarly, China Southern stated that Comac's regional jet would allow it to "strengthen the support of the trunk-routes market."
China is the fastest-growing market for commercial aviation, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) passenger forecasts. China is expected to displace the United States as the largest market for commercial air transport sometime in the mid-2020s.
Both Boeing and Airbus have received hundreds of orders from airlines based in China. Comac, China's state-owned aircraft manufacturer, has been looking to reduce China's dependence on foreign aircraft manufacturer's with both the ARJ21 regional jet and C919, a larger narrow-body airliner currently under development. Comac has also announced plans to develop a widebody aircraft to compete with the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.