China’s three largest carriers — Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines —each took delivery of their first Comac ARJ21 regional jets, and will be taking three more examples by year end. 

Comac handed over the aircraft to the three carriers on 28 June, hailing what it called “the official entry of the ARJ21…into mainstream international airline fleets”. It adds that the ARJ21 will “play a positive role” in the promotion of regional aircraft operations. 

Each of the regional jets will be configured in a 90-seat, all-economy layout, Comac adds. 

For China Eastern, the regional jets will enter service with its newly-launched subsidiary OTT Airlines. The domestic carrier’s first ARJ21, registered B-123A, showcased its orange-white livery. 

China Eastern launched Shanghai Hongqiao-based OTT in February, and said that it will be operating Chinese-made aircraft, including the ARJ21 and Comac’s C919 narrowbody. 

OTT will take delivery of another six ARJ21s next year, and another eight by 2022. China Eastern states that the carrier will receive all 35 examples by 2025. 

As for China Southern, it will deploy its ARJ21s from its Guangzhou hub, though it gave no indication of the routes they will serve.

The three state-owned carriers placed orders for the regional jet last August, each ordering 35 examples, with each deal worth about $1.33 billion.