Chengdu Airlines Schedules Worlds First International Comac ARJ21 Service

Chengdu Airlines is about to launch the first international route flown by a Comac ARJ21. The aircraft will fly across the border from the Chinese city of Harbin to the Russian commune of Vladivostok.

Chengdu ARJ21
Chengdu Airlines was the launch customer for the ARJ21 in 2016. Photo: Danny Yu via Wikimedia Commons

International debut

Routesonline reports that the Chinese airline will introduce the route on October 26, which is this Saturday. However, after that, this service will fly on Mondays and Fridays from October 28.

This will be the first time that an ARJ21 will serve internationally. This aircraft type is manufactured by Comac, which is owned by the Chinese state. The jet was introduced in June 2016 by Chengdu to help it serve regional flights.

This type currently comes in two commercial variants. The ARJ21-700 is the standard model, holding up to 95 passengers. Along with this, the inactive ARJ21-900 is stretched version, holding a capacity of up to 105 passengers.

Chengdu ARJ21-700
Chengdu is the Chengdu ARJ21’s biggest purchaser. The airline holds 15 units of the type. Photo: Xu Zheng via Wikimedia Commons

Internationally local

It is the ARJ21-700 that will make the cross-border trip to Eastern Russia. Even though this is technically an international route, the distance is still local. Both cities are on the most eastern points of their countries’ mainland, giving the journey a short flight time of 1.5 hours. However, due to China’s one time zone policy, passengers will lose two hours on arrival.

Nonetheless, this is the perfect route to test out the ARJ21 for international operations. Once in effect, Chengdu may want to consider using the twin-engine aircraft on routes to other neighboring countries.

The ARJ21 is set to become a more prominent aircraft as Chinese firms head into the next decade. Photo: Peng Chen via Wikimedia Commons

Government backing

Up until now, only smaller carriers such as Chengdu and the newly-formed Genghis Khan Airlines operated the aircraft. However, three of the country’s largest carriers made orders for the airliners. Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines are all preparing to operate the ARJ21 in the next decade. With all three of these airlines under government authority, this move shows China’s intent on expanding the jet’s use.

These movements will help the country become the world’s largest domestic aviation market by 2028. Altogether, there are predicted to be 1.8 billion airline passengers within China by 2037, which is nearly four times the number at the moment.

With the ARJ21-900 set to join its sibling in action, Chinese fleets may also be looking to stock up on the larger edition. There are also plans for an ARJ21F, which will be a cargo variant of the aircraft. The ARJ21B is also on the cards, which will act as a business-focused aircraft for commuters.

Simple Flying reached out to Chengdu for comment on the route but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What do you think of the airline’s operations of the ARJ21? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.