COMAC has issued this statement:
As the world’s first launch customer of the China-made trunk liner C919, China Eastern Airlines officially signed a purchase contract of C919 aircraft with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC) in Shanghai on March 1, 2021.
Five C919 aircraft would be introduced in the first batch, and China Eastern Airlines would become the world’s first airline to operate C919 aircraft. This is an important step for China Eastern Airlines in the introduction and commercial operation of the China-made trunk liner as a pioneer after the successful establishment of One Two Three Airlines (OTT Airlines) to operate China-made ARJ21 aircraft and in the first year to implement the 14th Five-Year Plan.
C919 aircraft is a large jet aircraft independently developed by China and owns independent intellectual property right. The aircraft has completed its maiden flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on May 5th, 2017. Since the beginning of the development of C919 aircraft, China Eastern Airlines has been striving to become a facilitator of the improvement and optimization of China-made civil aircraft, an explorer of commercial operation mode and a pioneer of market operation. China Eastern Airlines has signed a launch customer agreement and a Letter of Intent for purchasing C919 aircraft with COMAC in 2010; signed a Framework Cooperation Agreement with COMAC in November 2016 during the 11th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, becoming the world’s first user of C919 aircraft; signed an ARJ21-700 Aircraft Sales Agreement with COMAC in Beijing in August 2019; taken the lead among large state-owned backbone air transport enterprises to set up the first airline specialized in the operation of China-made civil aircraft, i.e., OTT Airlines, in February 2020 during the most severe period of the epidemic of COVID-19, and officially put the China-made ARJ21 aircraft into operation.
China Eastern Airlines has been deeply involved in the design and development of C919 aircraft, trained and provided the first C919 flight crew to fly a jet as a companion during the maiden flight of C919 aircraft, and provided suggestions from the perspectives of customer use and maintenance. Relying on the industrial chain partnership and the geographical advantage of being both in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines and COMAC have constantly promoted cooperation and innovation on the industrial chain, and jointly explored new practices in the commercial operation of C919 aircraft.