European plane manufacturer Airbus negotiated with the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) of China over the potential certification of its A220 narrow-body aircraft.

Having larger passenger seat capacity than the Comac ARJ21 regional jet, but having fewer seats than the Comac C919 narrow-body, the Airbus A220 could become an attractive option for local airlines operating in the western part of China, which have already expressed their interest for the aircraft. This is the reason why Airbus China has stepped into talking with the local Civil Aviation Authority over its A220 jet certification in the country, the chief executive officer of Airbus China George Xu told Reuters on September 28, 2021. Even though the aircraft is not a newcomer in the global aviation industry, as it was introduced in 2016, it has never been approved by China’s aviation regulator.

The certification of the plane could significantly boost Airbus sales in the large Chinese aviation market. However, the current policies of China’s CAA favor locally-manufactured aircraft, such as the 90-seated COMAC ARJ21 or the 160-seat C919, over foreign-made jets.

Meanwhile, Chinese planemaker COMAC predicts that passenger demand in China is expected to grow by 5.7% per year for the next 20 years, meaning that the country will need approximately 953 90-seated regional jets, equivalent in size to the ARJ21 plane. In the same time period, China’s share of the global passenger aircraft fleet is expected to increase to 22% in comparison to the current rate of 20%, the manufacturer said in its latest market forecast presented during the Airshow in China on September 28, 2021.