In a significant development, three of China’s biggest state-owned airlines have taken delivery of their first ARJ21 short haul 90-seater aircraft made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).
In a statement COMAC said, China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd, Air China Ltd, and China Southern Airlines Co Ltd have received the aircraft; they would each take delivery of three more ARJ21 aircraft later this year.
The ARJ21 entered commercial operations four years ago and is China’s first domestically manufactured airliner.
COMAC has two other passenger jet programmes in development – the C919 narrowbody aircraft programme which is currently undergoing flight testing, and the CR929 widebody programme in collaboration with Russia.
Earlier this year, China Eastern Airlines launched OTT Airlines, a subsidiary, to operate ARJ21 and C919 airliners.
The C919 will enable COMAC to directly compete with Boeing and Airbus in the single-aisle airliner market.
Earlier this year, the U.S. had considered blocking the sales of LEAP-1C engines to the programme, but later relented.
The development comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged from Wuhan China, ravaged international travel and decimated the order books of Boeing and Airbus.