China's Comac to arrive in Malaysia on March 12, aims to woo local airlines amid rivals Boeing, Airbus aircraft delivery delays

KUALA LUMPUR: The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (Comac) is set to arrive at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, better known as Subang Airport on Tuesday next week.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) confirmed the arrival of Comac's C919 aircraft for static display to Business Times today. 

"Approval given (to Comac) to fly in and out (March 12-14) and (for) static display," CAAM said, adding that the green light is currently given for the C919 aircraft only. 

Comac, a China state-owned aircraft manufacturer, is on a Southeast Asia tour to showcase its C919 and ARJ21 airplanes. 

The plane-maker participated in its first ever flying display at the Singapore Airshow last month before flying to Vietnam to participate in an airshow in the country. 

Comac said in a statement that it will also make a pitstop in Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia besides Malaysia. 

On Feb 28, Business Times reported that the Chinese aircraft manufacturer would be holding a flight demo on March 7 followed by another flight demo on March 8 from Subang to Kuching and back to Subang before leaving Malaysia on March 9. 

However at that time, CAAM said it had not received request from Comac to land in Malaysia. 

"Comac is on a Southeast Asia roadshow to showcase their C919 and ARJ21 and Malaysia is one of the countries that they will visit," a source said recently. 

The source added that Malaysia is one of the key potential markets for Comac to sell its aircraft especially when local carriers have to wait for their new aircraft orders from Boeing and Airbus due to delivery delays. 

Currently, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, Firefly, AirAsia Bhd, AirAsia X Bhd and Batik Air Malaysia Sdn Bhd are not operating Comac airplanes. 

Comac aircraft are currently flown mostly by China-based carriers. Indonesia's TransNusa is the manufacturer's first foreign customer, flying the ARJ21 from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur. 

Its other international customer is Brunei's Gallop Air, which placed US$2 billion order for 30 C919 and ARJ21 airplanes combined. 

Comac is currently obtaining the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for its C919 aircraft. 

The ARJ21 is a small regional jet while the narrow-body C919 is a rival to Boeing's B737 MAX and Airbus' A320. 

Airbus chief executive officer of commercial aircraft business Christian Scherer said the European plane manufacturer considers Comac as a credible and existing real competitor. 

"Therefore, our aim is to be better than Comac," Scherer said last month in Sepang, adding that the Chinese plane-maker is offering airplanes that uses the fly-by-wire technology that is inspired by Airbus' aircraft.

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