China's last Bombardier CRJ200 civil aviation aircraft retires

Updated: 2015-04-07 19:31

By Deng Rui(

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On March 31, China's last Bombardier CRJ200 passenger plane B-3536 made its last flight, taking passengers from Guiyang Longdongbao International Airport to Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. It marked the aircraft series' complete retirement from air carrier China Express, and from civil aviation in China.

That morning, China Express held a special "retirement ceremony" for the 50-seat "old buddy", which had completed 17,000 flights safely and transported over 500,000 passengers since 2006. It is the first known retirement ceremony for a civil aviation plane.

The CRJ200, an upgraded CF34-3B1 model manufactured by Canada's Bombardier, was once the work horse of domestic regional aircraft. There were 41 in total at its peak flown by Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and China Express Airlines.

China's regional aircraft are mainly from three companies: Bombardier CRJ, EMB Brazil and Modern Ark 60. China's regional aircraftaccount for only 8% of the planes in the country's civil aviation sector, while the figure in developed countries is 33% to 35%.

Wu Longjiang, CEO of China Express, said: "Running regional airlines was pretty tough at the beginning because our markets are mainly in third/fourth-tier cities where economic consumption ability is limited; higher cost and limited seats for each flight keep us struggling a lot in the regional airlines battlefield. Several regional airline companies exited the market after the devastating freezing hazard and financial crisis in 2008, but we survived. It was just those 'old buddies' like the CRJ200 that had witnessed our hardships and growth. We would like to hold a 'retirement ceremony' in memory of all these."

CRJ900 aircraft is set to take the place of the retired CRJ200. The 80-seat aircraft provides higher safety standards and is more comfortable, and can reduce 15% of operation costs. With 50 airlines and 54 destinations, China Express is making business innovations such as code sharing with Air China and Shandong Airlines, operating commuter aircraft providing excursion-pass tickets with Shenzhen Airlines. It's also planning on adding eight to 10 CRJ900NG aircraft each year.

A broader development space for domestic regional airlines emerges with more airports built in third and fourth-tier cities and tourist cities during China's urbanization process.