As it waits for the long process of certification to work its way out in wealthier markets, China has turned to a new client base – Southeast Asia – for its home-made passenger planes.
At the recently concluded China-Asean expo in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) signed a US$2 billion deal with Brunei’s Gallop Air to supply it with 30 aircraft.
The deal was announced on Monday by Tianju Group, a Shaanxi-based private enterprise with an ownership stake in the Brunei airline, but no details about delivery time or aircraft type were provided.
Comac did not reply to a request from the Post for comment on the state of its orders.
“Gallop Air will join hands with Comac’s domestically produced jets, the ARJ21 and C919, to build on Brunei’s soaring reputation for quality and branding in Asia and Oceania,” Tianju Group said in a statement.
The online version of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily also cited potential cooperation in the development of China’s aviation sector.
“Comac is ready to further deepen cooperation with Guangxi enterprises … jointly expand the Asean market, and promote the standardisation work of civil aviation,” Comac chairman He Dongfeng was quoted as saying.
Most of the purchases are widely believed to have been made by state-owned airlines, financial leasing firms and China-controlled overseas entities – including those fulfilled as part of the expansion into Southeast Asian markets.
TransNusa has the backing of China Aircraft Leasing Company, which is partly owned by Everbright Group, a state-owned financial giant.
China has set up agreements with aviation regulators from several markets to accept certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China as a suitable alternative to their own standards.
Memorandums of understanding validating China’s certification for its domestically produced aircraft were signed by Colombia in 2012 and Micronesia in 2014.
Both marquee planes are still being refined as their producer shops them outside the domestic market.
The aircraft maker has announced plans to further expand or downsize the C919’s existing 156-192 passenger range to 130-240 seats, and to incorporate new energy and artificial intelligence for further technological optimisation.
Comac is now conducting two-week demonstration flights of both the ARJ21 and C919 in west China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, according to its statement.
The flights are intended to better adapt the home-grown jets by servicing the region, the country’s largest and host to the most airports.
The news is published by EMEA Tribune & SCMP