(Yicai Global) June 4 -- Debt-laden Chinese conglomerate HNA Group will order 300 aircraft from the country's state-owned aircraft manufacturer, which suggests HNA is returning back to the spending spree mode after a few months of asset unloading due to cash flow issues.
HNA, the operator of Hainan Airlines, will add some 200 of type C919 large passenger aircraft and 100 of ARJ21 regional jets to its fleet to promote the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China's operations, the cooperation agreement with the Shanghai-based airplane maker suggested.
The move comes after a few months of HNA's deleveraging journey into selling off real estate and stakes in companies amid cash flow issues and tightening Chinese government scrutiny of offshore deals.
C919 will become the first large passenger jet made by a Chinese manufacturer in accordance with international standards. The narrow-body twinjet airliner will carry from 158-168 passengers with the maximum range of 5,555 kilometers. ARJ21, a dual-engine passenger jet which is already in commercial use, can carry from 78-90 travelers with the range of 2,225 kilometers.
The pair will cooperate in the fields of aircraft maintenance, aviation material support, training and aircraft leasing to establish a service guarantee system. HNA Group will also use its major stake in Ghanaian Africa World Airlines as the basis to expand the Chinese aircraft business into African aviation markets.
COMAC hopes that C919 planes can serve one-third of the domestic market demand in the next 10 to 20 years, an insider from the firm told Yicai Global.
The company is still conducting test flights for C919 but over 49,000 passengers have already boarded on the ARJ21. China and Russia are also carrying out the research and development for a CR929 wide-body passenger aircraft with a longer range than that of C919.
The aircraft manufacturer has received domestic and international orders for some 815 of C919 aircraft and for 453 new ARJ21 regional jets so far, the firm said in a statement, adding that it plans to reach an annual capacity to produce some 150 C919 passenger aircraft and 50 ARJ21-700 jets by 2020, despite delays in flight testing.
Editor: Emmi Laine