Comac’s ARJ21 has operated its first passenger flight into Central Asia, marking the programme’s international expansion in a move the airframer hails as a “solid step forward”. 

A Chengdu Airlines ARJ21 (B-604C) flew between Kashgar in Xinjiang province to Khujand in Tajikistan on 7 June, operating as flight EU2977.

Comac ARj21 Chengdu Airlines

Source: Comac

Chengdu Airlines operated the ARJ21’s first commercial flight into Central Asia

“The opening of the Khujand route will further promote exchanges in the fields of economy, culture, tourism and other fields between Kashgar and Khujand.” Khujand is the second largest city in Tajikistan, while Kashgar is the economic and transportation hub of southern Xinjiang,” says Comac. 

Chengdu Airlines is a prolific ARJ21 operator, with 28 examples in its fleet and a further two aircraft on order. 

The ARJ21’s first international route was launched in mid-2023, with Indonesian operator TransNusa – also the ARJ21’s sole foreign customer – operating it on Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur passenger flights. In September 2023, it deployed the ARJ21 on flights between its Jakarta hub and the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bahru. 

Separately, Comac says a freighter variant of the ARJ21 has also entered commercial service with launch customer YTO Airlines. 

On 6 June, a YTO ARJ21 freighter operated from Yining in eastern Xinjiang to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, marking not only the type’s service entry, but also its first international service. 

Comac launched the ARJ21 freighter conversion programme in 2020, with Chinese certification following in 2023.