New Chinese airline enters global stage with Dreamliner deal

A new Chinese passenger airline has moved on to the global stage by ordering five long-haul Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing.

Formerly a cargo carrier, Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines only launched its first passenger flights in 2014. But is now looking to spread its wings and has finalised a deal for five Boeing 787-8s worth US$1.32 billion at list prices. The deal was first announced at this year’s Farnborough Airshow, alongside a commitment for 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

“Donghai Airlines has undergone steady development over the past 10 years since the beginning of our freighter operations in 2006,” explained Wong Cho-Bau, the airline’s chairman. “Under China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, we will accelerate our fleet expansion plan to satisfy the rapidly growing air travel market and help build our home base Shenzhen as the transportation hub in southern China.

“Introducing these new next-generation airplanes that deliver the industry-leading fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in their segment market will be a key effort for us to fulfil the plan,” he added.

Donghai Airlines currently operates a fleet of 13 two-class B737s on domestic routes to cities including Harbin, Shenyang, Nanjing and Kunming. It expects to add two more aircraft by the end of this year and reach a total of 120 aircraft by 2025. The delivery schedule for the Dreamliners has not been revealed.

The B787-8 can seat approximately 250 passengers in a two-class layout, and its range of 13,621km allows it to operate some of the world’s longest routes.

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