Comac and the foreign media at Airshow China

C919 model.JPG
We had major issues with the internet connections at Airshow China 2010 in Zhuhai last week, hence why we hardly updated the blog. But I’m aiming to rectify that this week – there are lots of stories and images that I want to share.

One thing I was tickled by was the way the foreign reporters was handled by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac), which manufactures the C919 narrowbody. Their focus was on ensuring that the Chinese media (official media, as someone put it) got to report on the C919.

The foreign media, on the other hand, were not allowed into the press conferences or given access to Comac’s senior executives (leaders, as they are called in China). We had to take pictures from outside one open access door during the press conference to announce the launch customers, and my female colleague stood outside the men’s toilet for a few hours trying to eavesdrop on the proceedings.

Through the sheer persistence of my Flightglobal colleagues, later that day, we got a few (admittedly bland) words out of one official, and got into the C919 mock-up where we managed to get photos and some video. That was also mainly thanks to one or two junior officials who quietly helped us out.

The C919 programme is a source of pride for China, and rightly so. When it finally flies, it will compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families and put China on the world aviation map. There certainly is space for a third player in this market segment, and Comac could be the one to come in.

But based on our experience with them last week, China’s passenger aircraft programmes are still very much politically – rather than commercially – driven. That helps to a point in getting the programme off the ground, but it will become an impediment if China wants to sell the aircraft internationally – and they desperately want to do so.

Some changes are needed at Comac. Perhaps, it could start by engaging the foreign media a bit more. They know where to reach us – and we will continue to reach out to them.

C919 press conference.JPG

2 Responses to Comac and the foreign media at Airshow China

  1. Paulo M 25 November, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    Is Xinhua global yet… I think they – the Chinese – appreciate fully the power of media to both sell and “undermine”.

  2. Frank V 25 November, 2010 at 5:44 am #

    So, basically you gave them a free pass. If A or B locked you out of a press event at a major trade show, would you be so kind….or are you currying favor in the hopes of future access?

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