With its planned acquisition of up to 11 CRJ900 NextGen regional jets, China Express Airlines plans to extend its route system beyond the 30 destinations it currently serves as well as increase capacity on some of its current routes. The carrier, China’s first private regional airline, has placed a conditional order for six CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, with options on an additional five. They will be the first CRJ900 aircraft in China.
“Business for regional airlines in China serving mainly tier three and four cities is steadily increasing,” said Wu Longjiang, Vice-president, China Express Airlines. “The market was not very good when we started operating in 2006. But it has grown as local governments have attached great importance to it and have established subsidies to encourage regional airlines to serve their districts.”
Chinese business people flying the country’s regional airlines want the same amenities available to them on mainline carriers, hence China Express Airlines’ 88-seat CRJ900 NextGen jets will have six First Class seats.
When asked why China Express chose the CRJ900 NextGen airliner over the competing aircraft, Mr. Wu explained, “We did a comprehensive comparison of the available products and concluded that the other airplane had a bigger cabin and could carry more passengers, but the CRJ900 NextGen was lighter and had better economics and the passenger capacity was not really a factor,” said Mr. Wu. “And since we also operate five 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft, we knew the transition to the larger Bombardier aircraft would be smooth.”
When asked about China Express’ leap from a 50-seat jet to an 88-seat jet, Mr. Wu commented: “Our studies showed that even with more seats the CRJ900 would be profitable on many of our routes. It’s because of the great economics that Bombardier’s jets will be very competitive in China.”
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