China's United Eagle renamed Chengdu Airlines

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Chinese carrier United Eagle Airlines has changed its name to Chengdu Airlines, and plans to be the first to fly the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) ARJ21.

Late last year Sichuan Airlines Group reduced its stake in United Eagle by selling shares to Comac and Chengdu Communications Investment Group, confirms a Sichuan Airlines official, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Following the ownership change, United Eagle placed a firm order for 30 ARJ21s, with the first to be delivered late this year, says the official.

The ARJ21 is a Chinese-built 90-seat regional jet that is going through a flight test programme in an effort to get Chinese certification before year-end.

Comac has stated previously that Shenzhen-based Kunpeng Airlines will be the first airline to receive and operate the ARJ21. But the Sichuan Airlines official says Chengdu Airlines will be the first to operate the ARJ21.

Chengdu Airlines has a fleet of seven Airbus A320-family aircraft and operates on domestic routes from its base in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu.

The Sichuan Airlines official says United Eagle changed its name at the behest of the Chengdu municipal government, which wants to lift the city's image.