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Embraer aircraft sells 190s On ARJ21's Home Turf

China Southern Airlines will operate Embraer 190s in Xinjiang, the western territory of China that rival Comac sees as a natural market for its ARJ21 regional jet.

The leasing arm of China Development Bank will buy 10 Embraer 190s to be operated by China Southern, with deliveries beginning in the second half of this year, Embraer and the lessor say in a joint statement.

CD Leasing and Embraer signed a framework agreement covering aircraft sales in 2009.

“This transaction is an important measure to support the airline’s aviation market expansion in Xinjiang and the economic development of the Xinjiang region,” says CDB Vice President Wu Rongyang.

The order can only be seen as a blow to Comac, since Xinjiang and China’s big state airlines, including China Southern, are the natural homes of the ARJ21, which is of about the same size as the Embraer 190.

The ARJ21 program got state backing because the aircraft was supposed to serve sparsely populated western China, where good ground infrastructure is often uneconomic. The aircraft’s design is optimized for the hot-and-high operations needed there, and, like any high-profile Chinese technology program, it should be able to rely on the choreography of centrally directed contracts for aircrart sales.

The initial version of the ARJ21, the ARJ21-700, is aimed at the domestic market but Comac has struggled to complete flight testing and get the aircraft certified.

CDB Leasing and China Southern both say the deal will promote their partnerships with Embraer.



 By Bradley Perrett

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