For the first time, a Chinese-manufactured 90-seat passenger jet has been placed in service… and this, by a brand new airline.
OTT Airlines, a newly-founded subsidiary business run by China Eastern Airlines, finished its maiden flight from Shanghai to Beijing on Monday 28 December.
The new airline was launched by China Eastern in February 2020, with an aim to fly homegrown passenger jets in China’s mainland market, so as to demonstrate their quality and advanced design, as well as bring “superior flight experiences to the passengers”.
The ARJ21 is the first turbofan regional passenger jetliner produced by China, designed to transport up to 90 passengers.
Compared to similar aircraft, the ARJ21 is reported to have a wider and higher cabin that comes with 18 rows of “ultra-thin” seats. The seat pitch, recline angle and width are comparable to those of in-service narrow-body aircraft run by China Eastern.
By March 2021, OTT Airlines will be flying routes from Shanghai to Beijing, Nanchang, East China’s Jiangxi Province, Hefei, East China’s Anhui Province and Wenzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province.
The inaugural flight was piloted by Zhang Daqi, who has flown 6 types of aircraft with a safe flight time of over 18,300 hours. He flew a business jet to accompany the C919, China’s first homegrown big passenger jet that took off in May 2017.
OTT Airlines currently has 3 ARJ21-700 jets, and is expected to receive another 6 the next year and 8 more in 2022. Its fleet will include 35 ARJ21 jets by 2025.
In addition, it also has an operation team consisting of 15 pilots, 28 flight attendants, 9 safety officers, 2 dispatchers and over 30 engineers.
ARJ21 and C919, both manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, will make up the majority of the new carrier’s fleet.