C919 debuts overseas service

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Hong Kong students get off the C919 jetliner at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, east China, June 1, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

A C919 jet that is part of China Eastern Airlines' fleet launched its first overseas commercial chartered flight on Saturday, making the carrier the first to provide round-trip service between Shanghai and Hong Kong using a domestically made passenger aircraft, according to official sources.

China Eastern Airlines, the first international carrier to purchase a C919, operated the flight from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport to Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday morning and made the return trip that afternoon, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The passengers on the return flight included over 120 Hong Kong students who are participating in a seven-week internship program in Shanghai, the airline said.

Chan Kwok-ki, chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, expressed support and gratitude to China Eastern for transporting the students.

A flight demonstration of the C919 was performed last year in Hong Kong, which inspired a wave of aviation passion and deeply impressed Hong Kong youth, said Chan, who made a speech during a ceremony marking the flight's takeoff at Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday.

The C919 flew over scenic Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong in December, giving visitors on the waterfront a glimpse of the aircraft. The jet celebrated the first anniversary of its commercial operation on Tuesday.

People pose for a group photo in front of a C919 jetliner after its arrival at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, east China, June 1, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

China Eastern, which is based in Shanghai, received its sixth C919 jet on May 27 from manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, or COMAC.

Over the past year, its five other C919 jets have been used in 2,181 commercial flights and have accumulated a total of 6,090 hours of commercial operation, safely handling about 300,000 passenger trips as of May 27.

"As a new aircraft model, it has taken quite a long time for the C919 to grow into a well-recognized and sophisticated one in the industry," said Qi Qi, an associate professor at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College.

"To reach the long-term goal of breaking the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus, the C919 needs to fly domestically and globally to win market recognition, develop its fleet, gain consumer confidence and strengthen its production and supply chain."

According to Zhu Rui, chief technology officer of aviation data and solution service provider Vari-Flight, C919 aircraft have flown to six major airports in cities on the Chinese mainland over the past year, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu in Sichuan province and Xi'an in Shaanxi province.

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