Privately owned Chinese start-up carrier East Star Airlines has agreed to lease 10 Airbus A320s from GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) and signed a separate letter of intent to purchase 10 A320s directly from Airbus.


Wuhan-based East Star Airlines, which plans to launch operations in May 2006, says in a statement that it signed a lease agreement yesterday with GECAS for 10 A320s powered by CFM International CFM56 engines.

At the signing ceremony East Star’s president, Lan Shili, also signed a letter of intent with Airbus for the purchase of 10 A320s, it adds.

The letter of intent with Airbus is significant because it is the European aircraft manufacturer’s largest deal with a privately owned Chinese airline.

East Star in June this year gained preliminary approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China but it has yet to get its air operator’s certificate.

The planned airline is part of East Star Group, a Wuhan-based conglomerate which is “the biggest privately owned travel service [company] in China”, an East Star official told ATI in June.

China East Star Group’s travel service unit has branches in Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore and Wuhan.

East Star Airlines is one of several new carriers either planned or which have started operating in China this year - and the third to select the A320. Okay Airlines launched services early this year using leased Boeing 737-900s while Spring Airlines and United Eagle Airlines launched later with A320s on lease from GECAS.

Source: Flight International