GallopAir, a new Brunei-based airline, plans to buy 30 aircraft from Chinese planemaker Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which will include the first overseas purchases of the state-backed firm's narrow-body C919 jet.
GallopAir said in a statement on Wednesday it had signed a letter of intent to purchase the aircraft, worth $2 billion in total, at a regional trade event in China last week.
The deal includes 15 orders of COMAC's ARJ21 aircraft - including its freighter and business jet variants - and 15 of the C919, which completed its maiden commercial flight in May. The C919 was developed by COMAC to rival Airbus SE's A320neo and Boeing Co's 737 MAX single-aisle jet families.
COMAC did not respond to requests for comment on the GallopAir plan. The deal was disclosed by China-based Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group, an investor in GallopAir, in a WeChat post on Monday.
GallopAir said the aircraft from COMAC will need to undergo due diligence and certification processes by Brunei's Department of Civil Aviation prior to delivery.
"Flight operations are forecasted to begin in the third quarter of 2024," GallopAir said.
Once completed, the deal would make GallopAir the second international operator of Chinese-made aircraft after Indonesian low-cost carrier TransNusa, which operates a small fleet of the ARJ21 aircraft, a predecessor to the C919.
Little is known about GallopAir, which is expected to be only the second Brunei-based airline operator after national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines. The company has said it intends to provide flight services in the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.
(Reporting by Ain Bandial in Bandar Seri Begawan and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Writing by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)