Suparna Airlines To Fly the COMAC C919

COMAC has secured a new domestic customer for its ambitious C919 program. Here are the details.



July 18, 2023

DALLAS - China's latest commercial airplane, the COMAC C919, has secured a new domestic customer. National carrier Suparna Airlines (Y8) has announced the future incorporation of 30 units of the medium-haul plane. The agreement was made with the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPDB) through dry leasing.

Suparna Airlines is a small subsidiary airline of the Hainan Airlines Group, one of the largest commercial aviation enterprises inside of China, which today operates a fleet of 637 aircraft distributed along 20 different brands, including Hainan Airlines (HU), Capital Airlines (JD) or Lucky Air (8L).

With the upcoming deliveries of the C919, Y8 will abandon an exclusive Boeing fleet, made up in its passenger division of only ten Boeing 737-800s. It is still being determined, however, if the arrival of the COMAC airframe will begin a phase of retirement of the 737 or if both aircraft will coexist in Chinese domestic operations.

Suparna Airlines will be the second subsidiary to fly the Chinese homemade airplane inside the Hainan Airlines Group, as another 30 units will soon join the fleet of Urumqi Air. Despite this, aircraft rotation between the brands of the entity is very common, and the 30 units may be redistributed among the 20 inside carriers.

According to Chinese media, the COMAC C919 has collected 1,035 orders as of May 2023. The aircraft has also recently made its commercial debut with China Eastern Airlines (MU), which delivered its second unit on July 17.

Suparna Airlines has been historically dominant in the air freight market, but it still maintains a small section of passenger operations in China. Photo: Rohan Ramalingan/Airways.

Latest Updates of the C919 Program

China's most ambitious commercial aviation program of the decade is slowly progressing in the market, yet only gaining attention from its home country airlines, controlled mainly by the government.

The initial idea of the C919 project was to develop an aircraft able to stop the importation of western-manufactured planes and impulse national aircraft production.

Since its public launch in 2008, the C919 has secured an order book made of airlines such as Air China (CA) and China Eastern (MU), while most interest has been coming from significant national leasing entities such as ABC, the ICBC or the CCB. The only foreign appreciation for the aircraft has been reflected by orders coming from AerCap and BOC Aviation.

While the popularity of the C919 keeps growing in the domestic Chinese market, carriers have yet to choose to incorporate the aircraft into their fleet outside the country. Thai carrier City Airways (E8) placed an order but sadly ceased operations in February 2016, and the order was cancelled.

Featured image: COMAC.