China’s flag carrier Air China has ordered 100 units of the country’s first “homegrown” passenger plane, the C919, providing a significant boost to the aircraft as it seeks to compete with the longstanding dominance of Boeing and Airbus

The order will see deliveries begin this year and came shortly after the airline organised a $1.09bn private share placement to raise funds for a fleet expansion, which reportedly included a small number of C919s, developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) 

Despite being worth $10.8bn based on the C919s list value, Air China boasted that it had received “considerable price concessions” for its order, which is for all extended-range versions of the aircraft. 

While this is not Air China’s first order of the C919, the airline does not yet have any of the aircraft in service, though it does fly around 20 of COMAC’s smaller ARJ21 regional jets. 

According to the company’s filings, the order of C919s will be delivered in batches between 2024 and 2031, the same timeframe given for China Eastern Airlines’ order placed last year which also covered 100 of the planes. 

While the C919 is slowly being embraced by Chinese airlines, with China Eastern becoming the first to fly the aircraft last May and currently its only operator, it has so far only been certified to fly in its home country. The manufacturer still faces many barriers before being adopted internationally. 

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Despite this, COMAC has been keen to showcase the aircraft to attract attention from potential buyers in Asia, conducting a tour of demonstrations in Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia at the beginning of this year. 

Alongside Air China and China Easter, other airlines to have ordered C919s include Tibet Airlines and the Hainan Airlines group, with subsidiary Suparna recently announcing that it would replace its entire Boeing fleet with the model. 

The other of China’s big three airlines, China Southern Airlines, is also set to place an order for 100 of the aircraft in the coming months, Airport Technology understands.

The boost for COMAC’s aircraft came as the industry is re-evaluating its relationship with the long-dominant Boeing as the US-based manufacturer struggles with its reputation after a series of worrying reports about its quality control, resulting in CEO Dave Calhoun announcing he would leave the company.