MIAMI – China Express Airlines (CEA) has entered a strategic partnership agreement with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), according to Reuters.

The partnership includes CEA buying 100 ARJ21 and C919 aircraft from COMAC, but the quantities of each type are unknown currently. A document on the Shenzhen stock exchange shows the final parts of the contract are not agreed upon yet.


COMAC, Airbus and Boeing

The partnership is bad news for Airbus and Boeing, as both have been losing orders and have seen a drastic reduction in deliveries.

The C919 is intended to compete primarily with the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX. As of 31 August 2018, Comac had 305 firm orders, mostly from Chinese leasing companies or airlines.

COMAC has delivered 25 ARJ21-700 so far, Chinese state media reports while the C919 remains in the testing phase with several years of delays.


The COMAC C919

The COMAC C919 is a narrow-body twinjet whose development program was launched in 2008. Production of the prototype began in December 2011, with the first prototype being ready on 2 November 2015 and having its maiden flight on 5 May 2017.

Constructed mainly with aluminum alloys, the C919 is to be powered by either CFM International LEAP or ACAE CJ-1000A turbofan engines and be able to carry 156 to 168 passengers in a normal operating configuration up to 5,555 km (3000 NMI).

COMAC intends the C919 to break into the market dominated by Airbus and Boeing; however, the aircraft currently only has Chinese orders. However, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary recently said Ryanair is still interested in the type.