China Southern Airlines has taken
delivery of the first Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets to be produced under
licence in China.
Guangzhou-based China Southern took
delivery of two ERJ-145s today. It will be putting the aircraft into operation by
the weekend, Embraer executive vice president
civil aircraft Fred Curado says from
the northeast city of Harbin, where the Brazilian manufacturer’s Chinese joint
venture, Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry, held a delivery ceremony.
Curado says the airline’s four
other 50-seat ERJ-145s on firm order will be delivered through January 2005.
Harbin Embraer currently
only has the six-aircraft order on its books but expects to secure at least one
more order before the end of the year.
“We are constantly looking for
new prospects,” says Curado.
“It is not only an objective
to expand the fleet of China Southern but to add new customers.
“We expect another contract
manufacturers face major obstacles in China such as a regulatory regime that
often fails to take into account aircraft size when levying charges such as
landing fees. But Curado says there are signs the regulatory
environment is about to become more favourable.
“The environment and the
market has been difficult for small aircraft in China…but we have had formal
and informal indications from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)
that they want to create a local planning regime [that]…helps with development
of regional aircraft in China,” he says.
Curado adds that regional
aircraft development is in line with the Chinese Government’s broader objective
to develop the western regions of the country because regional aircraft are best
suited for services to these remote regions.
China Southern says in a statement that
it will use its ERJ-145s on domestic routes such as those to regional cities including
Nantong, near Shanghai; Luoyang, in northeast China; Zhoushan, south of
Shanghai; and Yichang, located between Chengdu and Shanghai.
Curado says the airline will
primarily be using the ERJ-145s to replace Boeing 737s on some routes and to open
Already 20 of China Southern’s
pilots have been trained to operate the ERJ-145 thanks to courses they did at
Flight Safety’s Le Bourget Learning Centre in Paris.
China Southern’s ERJ-145s will be
based at Guangzhou. Associate carrier Sichuan Airlines, based in
the southwest city of Chengdu, is currently the only ERJ-145 operator in China
with five of the type. These aircraft, acquired in 2000, were built in Brazil.