Chinese regional carrier Kun Peng Airlines has placed an order for five Embraer 190s in a deal that further sets the foothold the Brazilian manufacturer has gained in mainland China.
Based in Xi’an City in central China, Kun Peng is a joint venture between China’s Shenzhen Airlines and Phoenix, Arizona-based Mesa Air Group. Mesa helped establish the Chinese regional carrier under a contract signed in late 2006. The deal gives Mesa a 25-percent stake in the company, formed with $64 million in seed capital.
The regional airline market in China remains in its infancy, accounting for only about 10 percent of commercial service offered in the country.
The coming introduction of the Chinese-built ARJ21 regional jet could hinder Western manufacturers’ ability to sell airplanes in the 90- to 120-seat class, adding to the significance of Kun Peng sale. The Embraer 190s for the airline will be outfitted with 98 seats.
Kun Peng will become the second operator of the Embraer 190 in mainland China after Grand China Express, a regional carrier controlled by the Hainan Airline Group that took delivery of its first 190 two months ago. Grand China also operates eight ERJ 145s.
Formed in September 2007 with a pair of Bombardier CRJ200s, Kun Peng today operates on 20 routes and has more than 120 employees.
Plans call for further expansion, although Mesa Air Group has said the airline’s biggest impediment to growth will be hiring and retaining qualified pilots.