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SHANGHAIAs the world's first launch customer of the China-made trunk liner C919, China Eastern Airlines officially signed a purchase contract of C919 aircraft with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC) in Shanghai on March 1st, 2021. 

Five C919 aircraft would be introduced in the first batch, and China Eastern Airlines would become the world's first airline to operate C919 aircraft. This is an important step for China Eastern Airlines in the introduction and commercial operation of the China-made trunk liner as a pioneer after the successful establishment of One Two Three Airlines (OTT Airlines) to operate China-made ARJ21 aircraft and in the first year to implement the 14th Five-Year Plan.

As one of the largest state-owned backbone airlines, China Eastern Airlines has rich experience and outstanding comprehensive advantages in the commercial operation of large fleet and multiple models of aircraft. By the end of 2020, China Eastern Airlines has a fleet of more than 750 aircraft, which is one of the youngest aircraft fleets in global large-scale aviation enterprises. China Eastern Airlines has built dual core hubs in two cities and four airports with Shanghai and Beijing as the main bases, owns a global route network covering 1036 destinations in 170 countries, and carries more than 130 million passengers annually, ranking among the top 10 in the world.

C919 aircraft is a narrowbody jetliner independently developed by China and owns independent intellectual property rights. The aircraft has completed its maiden flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on May 5th, 2017. Since the beginning of the development of C919 aircraft, China Eastern Airlines has been striving to become a facilitator of the improvement and optimization of China-made civil aircraft, an explorer of commercial operation mode, and a pioneer of market operation. China Eastern Airlines has signed a launch customer agreement and a Letter of Intent for purchasing C919 aircraft with COMAC in 2010; signed a Framework Cooperation Agreement with COMAC in November 2016 during the 11th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, becoming the world's first user of C919 aircraft; signed an ARJ21-700 Aircraft Sales Agreement with COMAC in Beijing in August 2019; taken the lead among large state-owned backbone air transport enterprises to set up the first airline specialized in the operation of China-made civil aircraft, i.e., OTT Airlines, in February 2020 during the most severe period of the epidemic of COVID-19, and officially put the China-made ARJ21 aircraft into operation.

China Eastern Airlines has been deeply involved in the design and development of C919 aircraft, trained and provided the first C919 flight crew to fly a jet as a companion during the maiden flight of C919 aircraft, and provided suggestions from the perspectives of customer use and maintenance. Relying on the industrial chain partnership and the geographical advantage of being both in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines and COMAC have constantly promoted cooperation and innovation on the industrial chain, and jointly explored new practices in the commercial operation of C919 aircraft.

After the signing of the purchase contract, both sides would conduct docking as soon as possible and carry out all the preparatory work before the aircraft is put into operation, including supplementary operation certification of the new model of aircraft, training of professional personnel, signing of customer support and guarantee agreements, etc. Both sides would enhance cooperation in the areas such as aircraft import and export, material maintenance, logistics and warehousing, new technology application, material support, maintenance support and aircraft configuration optimization to ensure the high-quality operation of the first batch of aircraft.

According to the preliminary plan of China Eastern Airlines, the five C919 aircraft would be based in Shanghai and fly from Shanghai to Daxing District of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, Wuhan and Qingdao to improve the market share of China Eastern Airlines in these markets and bring a "brand new experience" to the passengers of the China-made aircraft.


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