Tianjin Airlines–Embraer, perfect fit for China’s regional expansion

Tianjin Airlines is also the largest E-Jets operator in Asia with 62 aircraft, which redefined the operation model of regional aviation in China

Issue: 12 / 2016By R. ChandrakanthPhoto(s): By Embraer

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast that China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market by 2024. India will be placed third. The growth of China and India are not surprising ones, expected as the two Asian giants are geographically and demographically huge. China’s land area is three times larger than India’s and China’s population is nearly 1.4 billion.

If these statistics is not going to change air traffic growth, nothing will. China has already made considerable progress in connecting the vast geographical area. It is forecast to add 817 million new passengers by 2024 to take the air passenger total to 1.3 billion by then. This is humongous. And these numbers are going to come from the hinterland for which regional airlines are going to be playing a major role.

First E-Jet operator in China

Tianjin Airlines of the HNA group is one of them, making strong headway in the regional market. Tianjin Airlines owns a young and de luxe fleet. The total number of airplanes is 77, mainly consisting of A320, E190 and ERJ145. Tianjin was the first operator of an Embraer jet in China.

Helping Tianjin Airlines capture this growing regional market is Embraer which recently reached another milestone in its E-Jets programme, delivering the 1,300th aircraft from its stables. The E-Jet, an E195, was handed over to China’s Tianjin Airlines in a ceremony at the Embraer factory in Sao Jose dos Campos. This delivery brings the Tianjin Airlines E-Jet fleet to 45, the largest in Asia.

“We dedicate this milestone to all our customers who have embraced the E-Jets philosophy. Without each of them, we would never have achieved such success with the programme,” said John Slattery, President & CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “It’s a great pleasure to share this exciting moment with Tianjin. We’ve been partners for many years and we look forward to many more decades, as the airline grows with the E2.”

First E2 to Tianjin Airlines in 2018

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2014 state visit to Brazil, Embraer and Tianjin Airlines signed an agreement for up to 20 E195s and 20 E190-E2s. The first E2 is scheduled to be delivered to Tianjin Airlines in 2018. Tianjin Airlines is among Embraer’s earliest customers in China. In 2008, it became the first airline to operate an E-Jet in the country. It is also the Embraer Authorized Service Center in the region.

Liu Lu, Executive Chairman and President of Tianjin Airlines, said this is another milestone for Tianjin Airlines. “Tianjin Airlines started as a regional carrier, and E-Jets have played a crucial role in our fleet optimisation and route expansion. Tianjin Airlines is also the largest E-Jets operator in Asia with 62 aircraft, which redefined the operation model of regional aviation in China. We are proud to receive the 1,300th E-Jet of Embraer and we look forward to the new E-Jets E2 to bring us even more value.”

Embraer has been leading the Chinese regional aviation industry with a market share around 80 per cent of regional jet orders. To date, the company has logged orders for 190 commercial aircraft, 21 of which are pending government approval.

Regional economic construction

Tianjin Airlines is based in Tianjin, the economic centre of Bohai Rim aggressively serving development of regional economic construction and committed to providing easy and convenient air travelling service for passengers, Tianjin Airlines emerges as a new force in China’s civil aviation market.

Tianjin Airlines was set up in June 2009 with co-investment from HNA Group company Ltd, Tianjin Duty-free Zone Investment Company Ltd and Hainan Airlines Co., Ltd. Through years of exploration and expansion, Tianjin Airlines has gradually become regional airlines of industrial influence, as well as one of the fastest growing and most dynamic airlines in China’s civil aviation history.

As an aviation enterprise co-established by Tianjin government and HNA Group, Tianjin Airlines owns a young and de luxe fleet. The total number of airplanes is 77, mainly consisting of A320, E190 and ERJ145. A320 adopts a cabin layout of 144 economy class seats and 8 business class seats, in order to make larger legroom and better comfort. E190 removes middle seats and lays two seats abreast on either side in a row, in order to make a more spacious cabin. E190 rivals comfort of large wide-body airplanes. ERJ145, a mature regional airplane type in the world, is featured by its mobility and flexibility. The comfort of ERJ145 matches Boeing 737 and is honoured as ‘luxury air bus’.

Six hubs

Tianjin Airlines has already built a regional route network with six hubs, Tianjin, Xi’an, Hohhot, Urumqi, Nanning and Guiyang. The routes are covering the entire country and also some neighbouring countries. Tianjin Airlines has opened two international (regional) routes including Tianjin-Hong Kong and Tianjin-Ulan Bator. From Tianjin hub, there are almost 40 routes to cities such as Sanya, Wuhan, Nanjing, Qingdao, Ningbo, Xiamen, Hohhot, Wenzhou, Xi’an and Nanning. From Hohhot hub, there are almost 20 routes to cities such as Chifeng, Dalian, Shenyang, Ordos, Ji’nan, Wenzhou, Harbin, Taiyuan, Nanchang, Tianjin, Yantai and Changchun. From Xi’an hub, there are almost 20 routes to cities such as Baotou, Urumqi, Ordos, Hefei, Fuzhou, Wenzhou, Hohhot, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, Nanjing, Nanning, Haikou and Qingdao. There are also over 50 routes from hubs of Urumqi, Nanning and Guiyang. In 2011, Tianjin Airlines has altogether opened 137 domestic and international routes to more than 80 cities.

Since establishment, it has a good flight safety record. Tianjin Airlines owns a highly skilled, experienced and well-trained pilot team, as well as a professional and standardised maintenance team, both laying a solid foundation for rapid development of the company. In October 2010, Tianjin Airlines was authorised by Embraer as first Asian E-jets service centre.

With excellent operating quality and outstanding service quality, Tianjin Airlines was awarded ‘Best Regional Airlines of the Year’ by Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in 2009, ‘Best Domestic Regional Airlines of China’ and ‘World 4-Star Airlines’ by SKYTRAX in 2011. Tianjin Airlines has become the youngest 4-Star airlines in global civil aviation industry.

Rebalanced trunk and regional routes

In initial days, route network of Tianjin Airlines mainly covers remote and less developed area in north-west, north, northeast and south-central China. Consequently, Tianjin Airlines has made extraordinary contributions to development of the west, rejuvenation of old industrial bases in north-east and boost of red tourism. The establishment of Tianjin Airlines has largely rebalanced trunk and regional route network and played an important role in China’s civil aviation development, especially regional civil aviation.

Based on the philosophy of “Take root in Tianjin, serve the nation”, Tianjin Airlines sticks to a regionalised and localised way of operation and endeavours to become an aviation enterprise group serving development of regional economic construction.