Comac’s C919 will make its first commercial flight outside of Mainland China, a year after it entered service with launch customer China Eastern Airlines.

On 1 June, China Eastern will deploy the narrowbody on a commercial charter from Hong Kong to Shanghai. According to the SkyTeam carrier, the flight will carry Hong Kong college students on an exchange programme with their Shanghai counterparts.

China Eastern C919 B-919G

Source: China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern’s sixth C919.

It comes as the narrowbody programme slowly gains international exposure: in February this year, the C919 made its first international airshow debut at the biennial Singapore airshow, before embarking on a tour around Southeast Asia.

The milestone also comes as China Eastern takes delivery of its sixth C919 (registered B-919G), which is also the first of 100 C919s it ordered in September 2023.

China Eastern says the delivery “marks the comprehensive acceleration of the large-scale and large-fleet commercial operation of the domestically produced…C919”.

The airline will take delivery of four more C919s this year, bringing its fleet to 10 examples by year-end.

It currently deploys its C919 on domestic trunk routes, including Shanghai-Chengdu, Shanghai-Beijing and Shanghai-Xian. China Eastern says it has operated more than 2,100 C919 flights in the year since service entry, adding that load factors for these flights have stayed around 80%.

“In the future, China Eastern’s C919 will be mainly deployed in…main base markets and important business and tourism trunk markets, continuously expanding its market influence and establishing a good user reputation,” the airline states.

In late-April, the other members of the country’s ‘Big Three’ – Air China and China Southern Airlines – each ordered 100 C919s, adding to Comac’s swelling backlog.

It follows orders placed by other Chinese operators, like Tibet Airlines, as well as Hainan Airlines units Suparna Airlines and Urumqi Air.

Cirium fleets data records Comac as holding almost 1,000 firm orders for the C919, with another 700 aircraft covered by more tentative agreements.