COMAC C919: Paving the Way for China's Aviation Dominance in Asia, Rival to Boeing-Airbus

COMAC C919: Paving the Way for China's Aviation Dominance in Asia, Rival to Boeing-Airbus

At the end of February, Comac from China embarked on its first tour of Southeast Asia. After participating in the Singapore Airshow, they conducted demonstration flights for the C919 in five SEA countries: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. The move is a strategic step in competing with Boeing and Airbus, and demonstrates Comac's confidence in Southeast Asia's potential for global expansion. In a statement on Chinese social media, Comac expressed optimism about the Southeast Asian market as a foundation for its growth.

With $72 billion in government support over the past 15 years, the development of this single-aisle aircraft is seen as a significant step toward President Xi Jinping's vision of moving China up the technology value chain and challenging its Western competitors. In addition, Boeing is under scrutiny for safety concerns after a door panel detached in January.

In the long-term competition with Airbus and Boeing, Comac's C919 is expected to dominate the aviation market, especially in China. The jet is seen as a major achievement for China in developing a more self-sufficient domestic aviation industry and reducing its dependence on Western aircraft. Comac offers two types of aircraft: the ARJ21, a regional jet with a capacity of 78 to 97 passengers, and the C919, a single-aisle aircraft with a capacity of 150 to 170 passengers. Meanwhile, the twin-aisle, long-range C929 is in the design phase.

The main advantage of the C919 is its price. Although officially priced at $100 million, sources close to Comac say it can be purchased for half that amount. Various incentives are also available, including export credits of up to 85% of the aircraft's price, as well as support for maintenance, repair, infrastructure and crew training.

While the C919 is still awaiting certification from European and U.S. aviation authorities, and can only operate commercially in China, aviation analysts believe that regulators in several Southeast Asian, African and Latin American countries may approve it more quickly.

Although all C919 sales are currently in China, Southeast Asia is a rapidly growing aviation market with a population of over 700 million and numerous new airlines. This is evidenced by Scoot's deployment of 9 Embraer regional jets, creating significant opportunities for travel within Southeast Asia.

As the world's second largest domestic aviation market, China is expected to dominate the global aviation services market by 2042, overtaking the US as the largest, according to Airbus. The success of domestically produced aircraft such as the C919 is key for China to maintain its dominance in the global market.

With the shift in relations between the US, Europe, and China in the technology sector, China can capitalize on these opportunities, including in aircraft manufacturing. As a leader in China's aviation industry, Comac cannot be underestimated as it continues to innovate in its domestic market to win the global market, starting from Southeast Asia.

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