Shandong Airlines is to become the first operator in China of the 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700 after re-working an earlier deal with the manufacturer for Challenger 604 executive jets.

The airline said in a financial notice published in state-run media last week that it had signed for two CRJ700s and deliveries are due by the end of next year.

Shandong operates nine 50-seat CRJ200s, having been the first Chinese scheduled airline to order the Canadian-built regional jets for commercial services in 1999. China United Airlines was already an operator of CRJ200s but it uses its aircraft only for VIP operations.

Shandong, which is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, said recently that it had dropped plans to acquire two more Challenger 604 executive jets from Bombardier, although it said it would go ahead with a proposal to buy five Cessna 208 Caravans (Flight International, 3-10 September).

The carrier had earlier committed to acquiring four Challenger 604s. It is thought the CRJ700s have been ordered in return for the scaled-back Challenger 604 commitment.

Bombardier has been trying to sell CRJ700s in China for some time. It said at the Farnborough air show in July 2000 that Shandong would acquire 10, but no deal was ever firmed up.

Source: Flight International