Air China has entered into an agreement with Comac for the purchase of 100 C919 aircraft, becoming the latest high-profile customer for the narrowbody programme. 

In a stock exchange filing on 26 April, the Beijing-based carrier said the new aircraft will be delivered from this year through to 2031, with an unspecified number “aimed at meeting the renewal needs” of the airline. 

C919_Test aircraft

Source: Comac

Comac’s C919 is currently operated by launch customer China Eastern Airlines

“The actual net increase in fleet capacity will be maintained within a manageable range,” it adds. 

Air China does not specify the value of the purchase, except to state that it has been granted “considerable price concessions”. At list prices, the deal is worth a total of $10.8 billion, according to the filing. 

It adds: “The company believes that there is no material impact of the price concessions obtained in the Comac aircraft purchase on the unit operating cost of the group’s fleet.”

It notes that the acquisition will be funded “by self-owned cash, commercial bank loans and other financing methods”, and is not expected to have any impact on its cash-flow. 

“The transaction is in line with the development plan of the company and the market demand, which is conducive to the group’s optimisation of fleet structure and long-term supplement of fleet capacity,” states Air China. Comac is yet to publicly comment on the deal. 

The airline is an existing operator of Comac’s ARJ21 regional jet, and has more than 20 examples in service. 

With the order, it will join fellow ‘Big Three’ carrier China Eastern Airlines as an C919 operator. The Shanghai-based carrier became the programme’s launch customer when its first example entered commercial service in May 2023. 

Other Chinese operators to have signed for the C919 are Tibet Airlines – which placed an order at the Singapore air show this year – as well as Hainan Airlines units Suparna Airlines and Urumqi Air.