Brunei-based airline GallopAir has signed a deal to buy 30 aircraft from the Chinese aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which includes the first overseas order of China’s domestically developed C919 large passenger aircraft.
The deal was disclosed by China-based Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group, an investor in GallopAir, in a WeChat post on September 18.
According to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group, the order – signed on 15 September on the sidelines of the China-ASEAN Expo – is worth $2 billion and marks a landmark project of cooperation between China’s domestic large aircraft manufacturer and a foreign airline.
The deal will make GallopAir the world’s first overseas airline whose first model is China’s domestic large aircraft and the first overseas user of freighter and medical business jet variants of the ARJ21, according to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group.
GallopAir airline will adopt a fleet of China-made large aircraft to strengthen aviation connections with China. Nanning and Guilin, both in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are likely to be the initial launch destinations, according to the group.
It is hoped that that aviation connection will deepen China-ASEAN ties and the construction of the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor, in order to promote regional economic and cultural integration, the group said.
GallopAir is a Brunei based new airline which provides “hybrid flight services,” according to a LinkedIn page under the company’s name.
Based in Brunei, GallopAir is an effective complement to Royal Brunei Airlines and the second flag carrier in Brunei. It will make up for transport capacity of Royal Brunei Airlines and build a Southeast Asian air transport hub with China made aircraft in the medium and long term, according to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group.
The C919 completed its inaugural commercial flight from Shanghai to Beijing in May. It is China’s first self-developed large jet airliner, and an important demonstration of China’s strength in self-innovation in the high-end manufacturing industry.
Orders for C919 large passenger aircraft have reached 1,061, with two already delivered, He Dongfeng, chairman of COMAC said on September 10.
112 regional aircraft ARJ21 are in service while the number of orders has reached 775. The first overseas user for ARJ21 is Indonesia, according to COMAC.