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Chinese plane-maker wins over $2bn in deals at Farnborough air show

By Angus McNeice in Farnborough ( Updated: 2016-07-12 23:04

Chinese plane-maker wins over $2bn in deals at Farnborough air show

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, displays a model of its ARJ21 passenger aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow in Britain, July 12, 2016. [Photo by Angus McNeice/China Daily] 

Rain and flooding forced a "soft evacuation" at the Farnborough International Airshow 2016 on Monday, though the weather did little to dampen the spirits of major Chinese aerospace industry players who landed some of the day's biggest deals.

Plane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) won two separate orders for a total of 90 of its ARJ21 passenger aircraft - one deal for 60 of the planes is potentially worth $2.3 billion while an amount was not given for the other order.

Chinese companies featured in two of yesterday's big announcements at the air show, which runs from July 11-17. Xiamen Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase up to 30 Boeing 737 MAX 200 planes worth $3.39 billion and signed a $980 million agreement with CFM International for the aircrafts' engines. Donghai Airlines announced plans to buy 25 of Boeing's 737 Max 8s and five 787-9 Dreamliners in a deal worth more than $4 billion. The deal displays Donghai's intention to shift from cargo services to passenger services.

Comac received an order for 30 of its ARJ21s and an option for 30 more from Hong Kong-based China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC), representing the largest single order Comac has received for the home-built jet. The planes will be leased to an unnamed Indonesian airline that one of CALC's shareholders, Friedmann Pacific Asset Management (FPAM), invests in.

"Friedmann Pacific, CALC and Comac are here today to sign a cooperative framework agreement with historical significance," He Dongfeng, General Manager of Comac, said. "It sets to create a positive and long-term impact on aviation development in Asia Pacific and globally, and on the implementation of the nations' Belt and Road Initiatives."

FPAM Chairman Mike Poon said his company was "honoured to participate" in the process of taking China-made aircraft overseas.

"Combined with our efficient business model, it is believed that we can facilitate the success of national aircraft in the international market," Poon said.

In another deal, AVIC Leasing, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China, placed an order with Comac for 30 of the jets.

The ARJ21 is China's first domestically manufactured regional passenger jet. The plane seats 90 for single class, 78 for mixed class and 68 for premium economy class. Its twin engines are made by US-based manufacturer GE Aviation.

After 14 years of development and a first test flight in 2008, the aircraft made its maiden commercial voyage last month, carrying passengers from Chengdu to Shanghai for Chengdu Airlines.

"The first flight of the ARJ21 marks the beginning of commercial, or passenger, operations for the ARJ21 and signifies the first time a domestically made regional jet has been used by a Chinese airline," company chairman Jin Zhuanglong told the Associated Press in June.

Comac has received more than 300 orders for the ARJ21, mostly from domestic airlines and leasing companies as the aircraft awaits regulatory approval from several markets outside of China. The manufacturer is also developing the larger C919 passenger jet, which seats up to 168 passengers.

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