COMAC ARJ21 Operates First Commercial Flight in Central Asia

A Chengdu Airlines COMAC ARJ21 jet in flight.
Mustang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

China’s homegrown regional jet, the COMAC ARJ21, has taken a significant step forward by completing its first revenue flight to Central Asia with Chengdu Airlines.

The landmark flight, operated by the Chinese subsidiary carrier Chengdu Airlines, marks a new chapter in regional connectivity and economic exchange.

The ARJ21 departed from Kashgar Prefecture in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on June 7, 2024.

Operating as flight EU2977, the aircraft arrived in Khujand, Tajikistan, over two hours later.

Supporting Air Silk Road Initiative

This successful flight signifies the growing capabilities of China’s commercial aviation sector. It also paves the way for further expansion into Central Asia.

The new route is expected to deliver a multitude of benefits:

  • Economic Growth: Increased air traffic between Kashgar and Khujand is anticipated to stimulate trade and investment between the two regions.
  • Cultural Exchange: Easier travel options will foster cultural exchange and understanding between China and Tajikistan.
  • Tourism Boost: The ARJ21’s operation on this route is likely to encourage tourism between the two countries, benefiting both economies.

This development aligns with China’s “Air Silk Road” initiative. This aims to establish a network of air routes connecting China with other countries across Eurasia.

The ARJ21’s successful flight to Central Asia demonstrates China’s commitment to this initiative and its vision for enhanced regional connectivity.


The COMAC ARJ21 is also known as the Xiangfeng (Soaring Phoenix). It is a domestically developed regional jet by China’s Commercial Aircraft Corporation (COMAC).

It’s a key player in China’s efforts to become a major force in the commercial aviation industry.

Designed for regional routes, the ARJ21 typically seats between 78 and 90 passengers, offering airlines flexibility for shorter-distance flights.

It boasts a modern design featuring a 25-degree swept wing for improved fuel efficiency. The aircraft boasts a comfortable cabin experience for passengers.

The ARJ21 program commenced in 2002, and after several years of development and testing, it received its official certification in 2014.

Chengdu Airlines became the launch customer in 2016. Since then, the ARJ21 has steadily gained traction within China’s domestic market.

The successful first flight to Central Asia signifies a crucial step forward for the ARJ21. It demonstrates the aircraft’s capabilities for international operations and paves the way for further expansion into regional markets.

Through continued development and accumulating operational experience, the COMAC ARJ21 is actively positioning itself to become a major contributor to China’s aviation goals.

A Chengdu Airlines COMAC ARJ21 approaches to land.
Danny Yu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About Chengdu Airlines

Chengdu Airlines, the carrier operating the historic ARJ21 flight to Central Asia, is a prominent player in China’s domestic aviation landscape.

In 2004, Chengdu Airlines (formerly United Eagle Airlines) took flight, establishing its headquarters in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. It operates as a subsidiary carrier of the established Sichuan Airlines.

Chengdu Airlines focuses on domestic passenger flights, operating a network that spans over 113 destinations within China.

Their primary hub is Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, a major transportation hub in western China.

The airline offers a two-cabin configuration on its fleet, consisting primarily of Airbus A319 and A320 series aircraft, along with a growing number of COMAC ARJ21s.

This focus on regional jets allows Chengdu Airlines to cater to the demands of shorter-distance routes within China, offering passengers convenient connections across the country.

Chengdu Airlines’ successful operation of the ARJ21 to Central Asia highlights its commitment to innovation and playing a role in China’s aviation development.

As the airline expands its network and embraces new technologies like the ARJ21, it is likely to remain a key player in connecting China’s regions and fostering economic growth.


This commercial achievement marks a significant milestone for both COMAC, the developer of the ARJ21, and Chengdu Airlines.

To solidify its position in the global commercial aviation market, China and COMAC will be closely monitoring the ARJ21’s performance on this new Central Asian route.

Click the banner to subscribe to our weekly newsleter.

Click the photo to join our WhatsApp channel so then you can stay up to date with everything going on in the aviation industry!

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
You Might Also Enjoy