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1st Overseas Delivery: Indonesia's TransNusa Airlines Receives COMAC ARJ21


Nov 9, 2021

1st Overseas Delivery: Indonesia's TransNusa Airlines Receives COMAC ARJ21​

By Charlotte Seet
Published 6 hours ago

Could the expansion into international markets further highlight COMAC as a threat to the Airbus-Boeing duopoly?

China's homegrown regional aircraft, the COMAC ARJ21, has officially entered international markets as the manufacturer delivered the aircraft to its first foreign client, Indonesian regional carrier TransNusa. Could this further highlight COMAC as a threat to the Airbus-Boeing duopoly? Let's discuss this.

A historical delivery for COMAC​

Painted in blue, yellow, and green - the colors of TransNusa, the delivered COMAC ARJ21-700 is registered PK-TJA and configured with 95 seats in economy class. The regional aircraft's flying range of 2,225 to 3,700 kilometers (1382 to 2300 miles) will aid in TransNusa's domestic and regional routes and is the first of two due to be delivered within these two months.

The new arrival and the subsequent aircraft were ordered in January last year by China's Everbright Group, which was looking for 30 COMAC ARJ21-700 and had the option of adding another 30 aircraft. The plan was that the regional aircraft would be leased through AVIC Leasing to TransNusa as part of the airline's fleet expansion.

Excluding the newcomer, TransNusa has three aircraft in its fleet, all Airbus A320-200s leased from aircraft lessors. A fourth Airbus narrowbody is due to be received soon, but the average age of the airline's fleet remains close to 12 years. However, Indonesia's aviation market has been blossoming in recent years, and the airline was looking to expand its fleet and transition from a regional carrier into a low-cost carrier. Deliveries of all COMAC ARJ21-700s are expected to be completed by 2026.

A threat to the western duopoly​

The first international delivery is a remarkable milestone for state-backed COMAC and is unlikely to be the last, albeit the timeline for such growth will indeed be relatively slow. But regardless, COMAC still has tricks that enable it to threaten the Airbus-Boeing duopoly, such as the C919. Although yet to make any international appearances, the first of the highly-anticipated single-aisle aircraft was finally delivered to launch customer China Eastern Airlines earlier this month.

With the first delivery accomplished, COMAC has to subsequently fulfill the remaining hundreds of orders from several Chinese airlines and state-owned aircraft leasing companies. So the C919 is quite the domestic hat trick for the aircraft manufacturer, but will the proclaimed rival competing with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 ever make it to international markets? The answer seems likely, and it's just a matter of when or which foreign client will go for it.

Keeping in mind that the domestic Chinese market is significantly huge, the C919 will get adequate sales that will allow the popularity and reputation of the aircraft to mature enough to spread into international markets for foreign low-cost or even full-cost carriers. This would take a long time, but just enough of a timeline for COMAC to come up with fine-tuned, sustainable renditions of the aircraft, like how the Airbus A320 family has the neo variants.

A path of growth for COMAC​

Similar to how the COMAC ARJ21-700 was delivered to TransNusa, the possibility of Indonesian, African, or even Russian carriers being clients of either the regional aircraft or the C919 is there and should not be so easily dismissed. And if there's one definite outcome, it is that COMAC itself should not be underestimated as an aircraft manufacturer.

Source: China Daily


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