The Chinese planemaker COMAC, and China Eastern Airlines, one of the world’s largest carriers, signed an agreement to purchase 100 C919 jets on Thursday in Shanghai.
This is the largest firm order for the new Chinese commercial jet, which debuted at China Eastern in May.
According to COMAC, the 100 planes will be delivered between 2024 and 2031, in an increasing volume. Next year, the manufacturer will deliver five aircraft, between 2025 and 2027 there will be 10 jets, between 2028 and 2030 the ratio will be 15 planes per year and finally in 2031 China Eastern will receive the remaining 20 C919.
The agreement between the two companies was expected after China Eastern Airlines was the launch customer for the C919. Initially, the airline purchased five aircraft and received the first of them in December 2022.
For several months the only series production C919 was tested on flights without paying passengers until on May 28 the aircraft made its first commercial flight. On July 16, the second jet was delivered by COMAC and entered into operation weeks later.
- 2024 – 5 aircraft
- 2025 – 10 aircraft
- 2026 – 10 aircraft
- 2027 – 10 aircraft
- 2028 – 15 aircraft
- 2029 – 15 aircraft
- 2030 – 15 aircraft
- 2031 – 20 aircraft
As of September 26, China Eastern’s two C919 aircraft had accumulated a total of 1,140 flight hours, having made 296 departures with an average occupancy rate of 73%, according to COMAC.
Around 35,000 passengers were transported during this period. The C919 is configured with 164 seats in China Eastern.
Replacement for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320
China Eastern’s plans for its narrow-body jets are not clear yet, but the order for 100 C919s gives a good hint about the future of its Western rivals, the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
Although the airline has agreements to receive both, the tendency is for the C919 to take space today from older models such as the 737-800NG and the A320ceo, of which China Eastern has 102 and 166 aircraft, respectively.
The new agreement also paves the way for the start of larger-scale production at the COMAC factory in Shanghai.