Chengdu Airlines now has two ARJ21s; only airline in the world operating the type; flies 65 routes across China involving 45 airports
Chengdu Airlines (IATA code EU) is the 18th biggest airline in the Chinese domestic market in 2016 according to OAG Schedules Analyser, offering over 41,000 flights between Chinese airports. With an estimated 1.20% of domestic services it ranks behind West Air in 17th place (1.34%) but ahead of Okay Airways (1.15%). The airline’s fleet consists of three 120-seat A319s, 22 150-seat A320s and two ARJ21-700s, the new Chinese-built regional jet. It is currently the only airline in the world operating the ARJ21, having taken delivery of the first aircraft in 2015 (a 90-seat single class example) and a second (in a 78-seat two-class configuration) in September of this year.
A subsidiary of Sichuan Airlines, Chengdu Airlines took on its current name in 2010 having previously flown as United Eagle Airlines since 2005. Since 2010, when it operated almost 15,000 flights, the airline has grown each year by between 10% and 30%.
Chengdu is busiest of 45 airports
Despite its name, Chengdu Airlines is not even the busiest airline at its home base. According to OAG data for the first week of December it ranks fifth in terms of weekly departures with 208 (6.8%), well behind Air China (26.7%), Sichuan Airlines (19.6%), China Eastern Airlines (12.7%) and China Southern Airlines (9.0%).
The airline’s next busiest airport is Changsha where it operates 56 departures per week across seven destinations. Chengdu Airlines currently serves a total of 45 Chinese airports, up from 39 12 months ago. Back then the airline operated on 54 airport pairs. This has increased to 65 with the airline having added 15 new routes but dropped four. The average weekly frequency has fallen slightly from 6.6 in December 2015 to 6.4 now. Eight of the 15 new routes are operated with just three or four weekly flights, while the rest are served daily.
Analysis of OAG schedule data indicates that Chengdu Airlines began five new routes at the start of the recent W16/17 season at the end of October; Changsha-Jinan, Chengdu-Xining, Haikou-Nanning, Harbin-Xining and Zhengzhou-Nanning. At 2,255 kilometres the new Harbin-Xining route is the longest yet flown by the carrier.
Just four routes in all are flown more than daily with Chengdu services to Changsha, Jinan, Sanya and Zhengzhou all operating double-daily this winter.