China delivered its ARJ21 home-grown passenger jetliner to Indonesian airline TransNusa, bringing the jet into a foreign market for the first time, South China Morning Post reported.
The aircraft is designed with 95 seats, all economy class, and its outer appearance is painted blue, yellow and green, according to its manufacturer, the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), which is also the designer of the narrow-body C919 airliner.
The flight range of the standard ARJ21 is between 2,225km and 3,700km, which meets the requirement of connecting destinations through one or more central airports, as well as from central cities to other neighboring small and medium-sized cities, Comac said in a statement on its website.
“The delivery also carries significance in terms of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and dual-circulation strategy,” it said.
Switzerland-based aviation intelligence provider ch-aviation.com said: “The Indonesian low-cost carrier was meant to take the plane late last year - the first of 30 it was due from Comac. But owing to the pandemic and the suspension of TransNusa flights, the delivery was deferred.”
China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings is the actual controlling enterprise of TransNusa, the state-run Global Times reported. In March 2020, the Chinese company acquired a 35.68 per cent stake in the Indonesian airline through an indirect investment for a total cash consideration of US$28 million.
Nearly 100 ARJ21 planes have been delivered to its clients since the aircraft entered commercial operation, and the company said it flies on more than 300 air routes, and travels across more than 100 cities.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China issued the ARJ21 production certificate in 2017.
“With further experience gained outside of China, the ARJ21 will likely operate in other domestic markets in the future,” said Eric Lin, Head of China Research at UBS Securities.
Indonesia is the second-fastest-growing aviation market in the world after China, in terms of its aircraft purchases and trade value, based on information from Statista, an online platform specializing in market and consumer data.
Despite the growth of the aviation market, and even before the pandemic, Statista said Indonesia’s aircraft industry “has been facing challenges of poor maintenance, safety issues, and a lack of support”.
The country’s national flagship airline, Garuda Indonesia, has also been battered financially due to the sluggish business of the industry brought by Covid-19 and soaring fuel prices.
Citing Comac, the New Jersey-based magazine Aviation International News (AIN) reported that China’s OTT Airlines, a subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines, operated three ARJ21s at the end of 2020 and was expected to receive six of the jets last year and eight this year.
China Southern Airlines put its first ARJ21 into commercial service in July 2020, according to AIN, and Air China took its fourth ARJ21 last year.
Information from ch-aviation.com showed that Comac has delivered 27 ARJ21s this year and a total of 93 since production began. Its clients have mainly been Chinese carriers: Chengdu Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Express Airlines, Jiangxi Airlines and OTT Airlines.