A series of visits to Haikou, China, by AvCraft managing director Wolfgang Walter finally paid dividends last month, when Hainan Airlines placed a firm order for 20 Fairchild Dornier 328JETs. The contract, signed during a May 3 ceremony hosted by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and attended by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, converted options on five airplanes to firm status and added a new order for 15 of the PW306B-powered jets. Hainan expects to take the first five airplanes by the end of this year and the rest through 2007.
AvCraft CEO Ben Bartel alluded to an imminent deal during late April’s Regional Airline Association convention in St. Louis, where he briefed attendees on progress toward starting full-scale production by year-end. Now in possession of five partially built 328JETs left by the company’s previous owners, AvCraft plans to finish those airplanes with the help of new wing tooling under construction by Germany’s EAG Engineering + Desi