Oct. 15, 2020, 11:01 p.m.
BEIJING, Oct 16 (Reuters) - China Express Airlines has signed a firm order for 50 ARJ21-700 aircraft worth $1.9 billion at list prices with state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the regional carrier said on Friday.
The purchases of the aircraft are a major boost to COMAC at a time when the COVID-19 crisis is devastating global travel demand, prompting many airlines to cancel or defer aircraft orders with top planemakers Airbus and Boeing Co .
Under an agreement signed in June, China Express would buy a total of 100 ARJ21 and C919 narrow-body passenger planes within the next ten years. The other 50 aircraft are tentatively scheduled to be C919 jets, which are still in the flight-testing phase after years of delay.
Deliveries of the domestically-developed 50 ARJ aircraft are set for the next five years, the airline headquartered in the southwestern city of Chongqing said, adding the COMAC planes would account for the majority of its fleet by 2025, based on current purchase plans.
The carrier's fleet currently consists of 51 aircraft, most of which are CRJ regional jets.
China Express was the only profitable Chinese airline in the first half of 2020 amid the pandemic, bolstered by generous state subsidies to support the country's regional aviation market.