The Chinese Big 3 airlines – Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern – announced separate orders for COMAC’s ARJ21 from the Chinese state aircraft manufacturer.

In separate deals each worth around USD $1.33 Billion, each airline will acquire 35 of the regional jets which will be delivered between 2020 and 2024. The airlines are looking to acquire the aircraft to boost their capacity on feeder and trunk market routes.

The ARJ21 is a twin engine regional jet similar to the products offered Embraer and Bombardier regional jets. The ARJ21 variants have a range of up to 3700 kilometers (2000NM), and a capacity of up to 105 passengers. At present, the ARJ21 is used by smaller regional Chinese carriers Chengdu Airlines and Genghis Khan Airlines.

Since its establishment in 2008, the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has led the move by the Chinese central government to establish its own aircraft manufacturing company to rival the Boeing and Airbus duopoly. The ARJ21 was the first aircraft to be designed and produced by the company, which is working on the C919 – a competitor of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

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