OTT Airlines seeks Chinese approval

China Eastern Airlines’ new subsidiary will fly domestic regional routes once operational.

OTT Airlines, the new regional carrier being launched by China Eastern Airlines, has applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for regulatory approval to begin flights. 

Operating from a base at Shanghai Hongqiao International (SHA), OTT would primarily offer domestic routes in the Yangtze River Delta and nearby regions on board ARJ21-700 aircraft made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

The airline took delivery its first ARJ21-700 in late June after operating a series of business jets under its previous brand, China Eastern Business Jet Co. A submission to the CAAC outlines that the carrier will be led by Zhai Zhigang, the former general manager of China Eastern Business Jet Co.

OTT—which stands for One, Two, Three—intends to use the two-character MU code of China Eastern. The CAAC application adds that air traffic rights, slots, and aprons will also be transferred from its parent.

Plans to launch the carrier were first unveiled in February, with China Eastern outlining that the subsidiary will have a fleet of 35 aircraft by 2025. OTT will receive three ARJ21-700s in 2020, six in 2021, eight in 2022 and nine each in 2023 and 2024.

The startup could also be the launch customer for the COMAC C919, a narrowbody twinjet aircraft with a range of 4,075 km. China Eastern has five on order, according to CAPA Fleet Database.

China Eastern offered more than 8.2 million domestic departure seats from SHA in 2019, OAG Schedules Analyser data shows, equivalent to 32% of all the capacity from the airport during the year. The carrier’s weekly domestic capacity from the base is currently 187,000 seats (w/c Sept. 7), up by 27,000 seats compared with a year ago.

Photo credit: OTT Airlines

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