DALLAS — China Eastern Airlines (MU) has placed an order for 100 C919 narrowbody jets directly from state-owned aircraft manufacturer COMAC. This order is considered the largest single order ever for the C919 aircraft. Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to begin in 2024 and continue through 2031.
According to the state-owned carrier, it has negotiated a substantial discount for the deal, which, according to Reuters is valued at US$10 billion based on list prices. The delivery of the planes will be staggered in batches from 2024 to 2031. While the list price for the C919 is US$99 million, it is common for aircraft, especially new models, to be sold at discounts of up to 50%.
The airline plans to receive the first five C919s in 2024, followed by 10 per year between 2025 and 2027. According to ch-aviation.com, in 2028, 2029, and 2030, the airline anticipates taking fifteen aircraft a year, with the final twenty units scheduled for 2031.
During the delivery period, MU plans to gradually withdraw a large number of its existing narrowbody passenger aircraft from its fleet due to their age and lease expiration.
Boeing has experienced a significant decline in new orders from Chinese carriers since 2017, largely due to escalating political and trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. This has resulted in a challenging situation for Boeing in the Chinese market.
China Eastern Airlines Fleet
While MU’s fleet is composed of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, the news comes as the latter is still facing a delay in resuming deliveries of its popular 737 MAX aircraft to Chinese airlines, more than four years after they were suspended due to two fatal crashes.
China Eastern Airlines’ Western-built narrowbody fleet consists of the following aircraft:
- 35 A319-100s
- 166 A320-200s
- 104 A320-200Ns
- 77 A321-200s
- 37 Boeing 737-700s
- 3 Boeing 737-8s
- 102 Boeing 737-800s.
Currently, the airline operates two C919s as the type’s launch customer and expects to receive three more units from its previous order by the end of 2023.
Featured image: COMAC C-919 rollout for China Eastern Airlines. Photo: COMAC