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Analysis: Chinese Carriers’ Future Widebody Orders

With aging 777-300ER and A330 fleets, Chinese carriers are becoming increasingly in need of new widebody jets.

A China Eastern 777 turns onto the runway in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

It has been seven years since mainland China carriers placed orders with Boeing, and it has been five years for Airbus to see Chinese widebody orders. The two major aircraft manufacturers supply all the widebody passenger jets for Chinese airlines, and the new competitor, COMAC, is joining the arena in the 2030s with its C929.

According to Boeing, as the market continues to recover and regain momentum for growth, its need for new generation widebody aircraft is estimated to be over 1,500 by the 2040s. In this article, we will deep dive into each manufacturer’s product offerings and the potential items on Chinese airlines’ shopping lists.


Airbus now takes the largest market share of the Chinese passenger jet market. Airbus’ widebody product portfolio will include its A330neo and A350 series jets in the coming decade. The A330 has the largest widebody fleet in China, with both passenger and cargo configurations. With a mature operating system, the A330neo is an advantageous candidate for replacing and upgrading airlines’ aging fleets.

According to a procurement release from Hainan Airlines, it is looking to acquire 20 aircraft gallies for A330-900 jets. Such release confirmed that the carrier is planning to receive A330neo jets. However, the order and delivery dates have yet to be announced.

For the A350, Airbus has fully delivered the 30 orders placed by Air China and 20 orders placed by China Eastern. In future years, Airbus will continue to produce 10 A350s for China Southern and four to Sichuan Airlines for the remainder of their orders.


Boeing’s widebody product portfolio includes its 787 Dreamliner and the next-generation 777X. Boeing’s 777-300ER is the backbone of Chinese carriers’ long-haul international and major domestic flights.

Although the orders have yet to be announced, all big three carriers have lined up Boeing’s 787 delivery plans for the coming years. The exact variant of 787 of those deliveries is still unknown, but it is believed there will be the larger 787-10. This order is to replace the aging A330s retiring in the coming years.

COMAC: The Newcomer

Chinese manufacturer COMAC is also introducing its first widebody jet, the COMAC C929. COMAC’s single-aisle jet – the C919 – is now delivering its sixth frame to China Eastern. The big three state-owned carriers of China will certainly place some orders for the C929 to support national industry. However, due to the uncertainty of its certification and delivery timeline, we will likely see major orders and development updates on C929 in three to five years.

Overall, the Chinese aviation market has grown to be the world’s second-largest with a variety of widebody jets from Boeing and Airbus. The Chinese carriers are now trying to replace their aging A330s, and Airbus’ A330neo and Boeing’s 787 have been ordered for this purpose.

For future expansions and fleet upgrades, Boeing’s 777X and Airbus’ A350-1000 may be considered to replace the aging Boeing 777-300ER. For the newcomer, COMAC, it is almost certain that Chinese carriers will order its future C929. However, the exact quantity and the performance of the jet will be seen in the future.

Lei Yan


  • Lei Yan

    Lei is from Inner Mongolia, China, and now lives in Guangzhou. He grew up in an aviation family, where his passion began. During his time at Penn State University, he studied Industrial Engineering specializing in operations research, and he graduated with an honor’s thesis on airport gate assignment optimization. Now, he is a Purchasing Manager with Procter & Gamble. In his free time, he enjoys flying, reading, and wandering around the city.

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