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China Eastern and China Southern replicate Air China ARJ21 order

China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines have joined flag carrier Air China in ordering Comac ARJ21-700s.

In separate though near-identical statements, each carrier has disclosed an order for 35 of the aircraft, valuing the deal at $1.33 billion – a figure that covers both the airframe and engine – while also noting price concessions from Comac. Deliveries of these jets are to take place between 2020 and 2024.

China Eastern says its order is intended to overcome a "shortage of feeder capacity", improve its network, and "explore the development potential of the feeder market".

For China Southern, the ARJ21s will "strengthen the support of the trunk-routes market" and "further expand the market coverage".

This could also mean that China Southern's Guangzhou-based mainline carrier will be the one operating the ARJ21s, rather than its affiliates Chongqing Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, in which parent company China Southern Air Holding has majority stakes.

China Eastern and China Southern both say their orders will be funded through a combination of their own resources and bank loans or financial arrangements with institutions. China Eastern specifically indicates that the transaction will be denominated in dollars, while payment for the ARJ21s will be settled in Chinese yuan.

Cirium fleets data shows that prior to the announcements by the three state-owned Chinese carriers, Comac has orders for 233 ARJ21s from different carriers and lessors.

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