China’s Xian Aircraft has sold two MA60 turboprops to Laos and two to the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and these 50-seat aircraft will be used for commercial passenger operations.

China Aviation Industry I (AVIC I) in Beijing confirms that each country has ordered two MA60s and a delivery ceremony was held in Xian on 28 July in which each took delivery of one aircraft.

Lao Airlines will be getting two MA60s and a state-owned carrier in the Republic of Congo will be getting the other two, says the spokeswoman, who was unable to name the African carrier. AVIC I is the parent company of Xian Aircraft.
Director of flight operations at Lao Airlines, Chanthala Sisounonh, confirms the airline is getting two MA60s from Xian Aircraft and these are due to arrive in Laos on 4 August and 28 September.

The MA60s will be used domestically and on short-haul international routes from the Laotian capital Vientiane to Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand, says Chanthala. Lao Airlines will continue to use its two ATR 72s on international routes and its two Harbin Y-12s domestically, says Chanthala, adding that the small Chinese aircraft are mostly used on northern routes because the airports there have shorter runways.

When asked why Lao Airlines ordered MA60s, Chanthala says it was a government decision. Lao Airlines plans to initially send eight pilots to Xian in China to do MA60 simulator training.

While the ATR 72 is the largest aircraft in the airline’s fleet, in 2010 it hopes to add either an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 for international operations, says Chanthala, who is unable to elaborate.

Laos and Congo-Brazzaville are both political allies of China. Xian has also sold MA60s to other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and Zimbabwe.

Source: Flight International