Home Economy News Tibet Airlines finalises orders for 40 C919, 10 ARJ21 jets from China’s COMAC

Tibet Airlines finalises orders for 40 C919, 10 ARJ21 jets from China’s COMAC


Tibet Airlines finalises orders for 40 C919, 10 ARJ21 jets from China’s COMAC By Reuters

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Published Feb 19, 2024 10:36PM ET
Updated Feb 19, 2024 11:07PM ET

© Reuters. People take photos of a model of the Comac C919 plane during the Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, February 20, 2024. REUTERS/Edgar Su

By Brenda Goh

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -China’s Tibet Airlines on Tuesday finalised an order for 40 C919 and 10 ARJ21 jets from COMAC designed to be suitable for high-altitude plateaus, becoming the launch customer for a new variant the Chinese state-owned planemaker is developing.

The two companies signed the deal on the sidelines of the biennial commercial and defence-focused Singapore Airshow.

The announcement came after Tibet Airlines and COMAC in December announced that they would jointly research a shortened variant of the C919 that will seat 140-160 passengers and can take off and land at high-altitude airports.

Chinese state-backed Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Group on Tuesday also signed an agreement with COMAC for six models derived from the smaller ARJ21 regional jet specialised for firefighting, medical services and emergency management.

COMAC’s C919 is in Singapore on its first trip outside Chinese territory, and the Chinese planemaker is positioning the jet as a viable alternative to the Airbus A320neo and Boeing (NYSE:BA)’s 737 MAX single-aisle jet families, as they struggle to meet demand for new planes, and Boeing grapples with a string of crises.

The plane is only certified within China and the first of now four C919s began flying with China Eastern Airlines (OTC:CEAYY) last year.

COMAC has received more than 1,000 C919 orders so far, state media reported in September, mostly from Chinese airlines and lessors.

Gao Dongyue, an executive at Tibet Airlines, told Reuters that research to develop the C919 high-altitude variant was ongoing but that they could not yet disclose a timeline.

“We have a lot of experience in this area,” he said. “And we’re taking into consideration all possible routes that could be suitable for the plane.”

Tibet Airlines mainly flies domestically but also has routes to places such as Kathamandu in Nepal.

In September, GallopAir, a new Brunei-based airline, said it planned to buy 30 aircraft from COMAC, including the C919, which would mark the narrow-body jet’s first overseas purchase.

Little is known about GallopAir, which is expected to be only the second Brunei-based airline operator after national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines. The company has said it intends to provide flights in the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN growth area.

Once completed, the deal would make GallopAir the second international operator of Chinese-made aircraft after Indonesian low-cost carrier TransNusa, which operates a small fleet of the ARJ21 regional jets.

COMAC also brought the ARJ21 to Singapore for a flying display. The company commenced commercial operations for the ARJ21 in 2016 and has delivered 127 planes so far.

Tibet Airlines finalises orders for 40 C919, 10 ARJ21 jets from China’s COMAC

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