China Eastern Airlines has deployed its Comac C919 narrowbody on its second scheduled domestic route, about half a year after the type began commercial operations.

On 9 January, the airline launched C919 flights between Shanghai Hongqiao to Beijing Daxing, linking its two domestic hubs. The aircraft already operates daily flights from Shanghai to Chengdu’s Tianfu airport. 

First China Eastern C919

Source: Shutterstock

China Eastern Airlines took delivery of its first C919 in December 2022.

China Eastern, which is the launch customer and sole operator of the C919, now has four examples in its fleet. The carrier in September 2023 expanded its commitments for the type, signing for an additional 100 jets. 

“As China Eastern’s C919 fleet continues to grow, China Eastern will continue to act as a ‘pioneer’ and work with all parties to explore commercial…opportunities…optimise and improve operations, and [launch] new C919 routes,” the airline says.

Beijing has pinned high hopes on the C919 programme, which it hopes will be able to break the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies. 

In its annual work conference for 2024, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) disclosed its plans to promote Comac’s aircraft programmes to the international market. 

This includes possibly getting the C919 certificated by European regulators, according to CAAC’s social media accounts. It did not elaborate further, but reiterates that the ultimate goal is to “promote homegrown aircraft programmes abroad”. 

The C919 programme hit several milestones in recent months. In December, it flew for the first time outside of Mainland China, performing a demonstration flight over downtown Hong Kong. 

Comac is also working with Tibet Airlines in developing a high-altitude variant of the C919, and has also hinted that a stretched variant is in the works.