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China's C919 Accelerates Commercial Operation

By Xinhua|May 29,2024

The third C919 plane of China Eastern Airlines takes off from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport in east China's Shanghai, Dec. 9, 2023. (Photo/Xu Bingnan, Xinhua)

Shanghai - The sixth C919 jetliner delivered worldwide joined the China Eastern Airlines fleet on Tuesday, indicating the acceleration of commercial operation of China's homegrown large passenger aircraft.

This came one year after the first commercial flight of C919 was made. With its self-developed trunk jetliner, China aims to secure a share of the global civil aviation market, which is currently dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

The aircraft, delivered to China Eastern on Monday, landed at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport on Tuesday morning after a short flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

This was the first delivery of 100 C919 aircraft that China Eastern, the first global customer of the single-aisle jetliner, ordered last year. So far, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC) has delivered six C919 aircraft worldwide, all to China Eastern.

"China Eastern has achieved breakthroughs in the commercial operation of the C919 large aircraft, with the fleet size of C919 rising from zero to one and from one to five. Now we are in the process of achieving further breakthroughs by expanding the fleet size from six to over 100," said Wang Zhiqing, chairman of China Eastern Airlines.

"We will further improve the operational efficiency and market competitiveness of the C919 aircraft so that the C919 can fly more steadily, farther, wider and better," Wang added.

The C919 is expected to make its first overseas commercial flight on June 1, with China Eastern operating a chartered flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai, according to the airline.

As of Monday, the five C919 jetliners of China Eastern had completed 2,181 flights, accumulating 6,090 flight hours across three routes -- Shanghai-Chengdu, Shanghai-Beijing and Shanghai-Xi'an -- transporting over 276,000 passengers in the past year.

The daily utilization rate has been steadily improving. As of Monday, the average passenger occupancy rate reached nearly 80 percent.

The C919's large-scale operation is of great significance for enhancing China's competitiveness in the global aviation market.

By the end of 2024, China Eastern's C919 fleet is expected to have 10 aircraft, which will mainly serve the airline's main base markets and important business and tourism trunk markets. In September 2023, the airline ordered an additional 100 C919 aircraft after the first order of five C919.

Major domestic airlines like Air China and China Southern Airlines have also each placed additional orders for 100 C919 aircraft. At present, the global orders placed for C919 have exceeded 1,000 aircraft.

After delivery, the C919 aircraft are subject to a full range of market tests, said Ma Sining, senior project manager of COMAC Shanghai Aircraft Customer Service Co., Ltd. "We provide full-cycle support services to help airlines with the flights."

The C919 trunk jetliner is poised to have a promising market outlook due to its adaptability, advanced technology and performance capabilities, combined with China's vast civil aviation market. The COMAC, meanwhile, continues to optimize and upgrade the aircraft.

At the Singapore Airshow, Tibet Airlines ordered 40 plateau-type C919 aircraft, becoming the launch customer of this aircraft model. The plateau version can meet the performance requirements for take-off and landing at all plateau airports within China.

China has a massive civil aviation market with great potential. According to a market forecast released by COMAC in late 2022, over the 2022-2041 period, China's civil aviation market will receive 9,284 new passenger jets, including 6,288 single-aisle jetliners.

By 2041, China is expected to become the world's largest single-country civil aviation market, according to the forecast.


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