September 16, 2015 / 4:12 AM / 3 years ago

China's COMAC says inks ICBC Leasing deal to supply 20 jets to Thai carrier

BEIJING, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned plane maker Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) said on Wednesday it has signed an initial agreement with lessor ICBC Financial Leasing Co to lease 10 COMAC ARJ21 regional jets and 10 of its C919 single-aisle commercial jets to Thai airline City Airways.

The order, sealed on the sidelines of the 2015 Beijing airshow, lifts Comac’s order book for the C919 to 514, and for the ARJ21 to more than 300, mostly from domestic companies, a Comac spokesman said. Financial terms weren’t disclosed and neither City Airways nor ICBC Financial commented immediately on the COMAC statement.

The ARJ21, China’s first locally built regional jet, is designed to compete against Brazil’s Embraer SA and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. The aircraft, which seats about 90 passengers, has not yet been put into commercial service.

COMAC is also making the self-developed narrow-body C919 jet, the first Chinese-built jet of its type, targeted at eventually competing with Boeing Co and Airbus Group NV .

China is keen to develop a successful commercial aircraft to rival Boeing and Airbus. But it has been held back by inexperience, a shortage of local aerospace design and engineering talent, as well as a lack of home-grown companies with the technology to help drive the project. (Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller in BEIJING; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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