Comac delivers ARJ21 aircraft to three major Chinese airlines

Air China Comac ARJ21-700
Air China's first ARJ21-700 aircraft. Photo: © N509FZ

Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines’ subsidiary One Two Three Airlines (OTT Airlines) are now the latest operators of Comac’s ARJ21-700 aircraft.

Chinese aircraft manufacturer Comac simultaneously delivered the first jets to each carrier on Sunday during a delivery ceremony at Comac’s production site at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (IATA: PVG).

While Air China and China Southern Airlines were willing to introduce the jet directly into their operations, China Eastern Airlines decided to create the subsidiary OTT Airlines for operating the ARJ21.

The ARJ21-700 is a regional jet featuring a seat layout for a capacity between 78 and 90 passengers. According to Comac, it has been ordered over 590 times, although many of those are likely to be options and not firm purchases. Almost all orders are coming from Chinese airlines and international interest has been low.

The aircraft features wings manufactured by Ukraine’s Antonov and is powered by General Electric engines. Even though it has noticeable similarities to the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series, it is one of the few aircraft types developed in China. This has led to some technical challenges, and it took Comac eight years after the first flight in 2008 to get the aircraft into commercial service. So far, ARJ21-700 airplanes have been delivered to a total of six customers, including the three new ones. 2016 launch customer Chengdu Airlines is currently the largest operator with a fleet of 21 ARJ21-700s. Furthermore, Genghis Khan Airlines and Jiangxi Air have Comac ARJ21-700 jets in their respective fleets.