TransNusa Begins Maiden ARJ21 Flights

I’ve written a couple of articles about TransNusa’s Comac ARJ21, and it looks like the airline is finally starting passenger flights on the jet! Having completed 100 hours of proving flights to the Indonesian Civil Aviation authorities, TransNusa will finally fly its first passenger flight on the Comac ARJ21 today, 18 April 2023.

TransNusa’s Comac ARJ21

The ARJ21 ‘Xiangfeng’ is China’s first commercial production jetliner, manufactured by the state-owned, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). Back in December 2022, TransNusa took delivery of its Comac ARJ21 jet, subsequently becoming the Chinese manufacturer’s first foreign customer. Whilst the jet has been in commercial operation since 2016, virtually all of its flights were centred in China. The airline’s example, in particular, is equipped with 95 seats in an all-economy configuration – which I imagine will be quite tight!

TransNusa’s ARJ21 at Denpasar, Bali on a proving flight

Early in the day, we’ve been hearing how the airline planned to operate its future fleet of ARJ21s on slim regional routes mimicking the airline’s original inter-island network. Then by early this year, the airline had already been talking about flying these jets on high-frequency shuttle flights between major cities. After that, there was even speculation that the airline will use the ARJ21s on its new flights to Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. Well, it looks like none of those are true (for now)…

ARJ21s to fly Jakarta – Bali

TransNusa has finally loaded the Comac ARJ21 onto its schedule, and it looks like the only route it will be serving for now is Denpasar Bali (DPS). Specifically, the maiden flight will depart today, 18 April 2023, with the following schedule:

8B 5112 Departs 12:30 Jakarta (CGK) Arrives 15:20 Denpasar-Bali (DPS)
Non-stop | ARJ21-700 (AJ27) | Flight time 1:50 | Effective 2023-04-18

The aircraft will then return to Jakarta as

8B 5111 Departs 20:30 Denpasar-Bali (DPS) Arrives 21:20 Jakarta (CGK)
Non-stop | ARJ21-700 (AJ27) | Flight time 1:50 | Effective 2023-04-18

Interestingly, the schedule changes after this maiden service, for effective 19 April 2023, the aircraft will have the following return schedule.

8B 5112 Departs 15:30 Jakarta (CGK) Arrives 18:15 Denpasar-Bali (DPS)
Non-stop | ARJ21-700 (AJ27) | Flight time 1:50 | Effective 2023-04-19

8B 5113 Departs 18:45 Denpasar-Bali (DPS) Arrives 19:35 Jakarta (CGK)
Non-stop | ARJ21-700 (AJ27) | Flight time 1:50 | Effective 2023-04-19

Apart from the fact that the jet will only be utilised on two flights each day, confusingly, no ARJ21 flights have been loaded after 30 April. Perhaps that alludes to the launch of those shuttle flights they’ve been talking about?

Fully Booked Maiden Flight

Regardless of that the maiden flight today (8B 5112) has been fully booked. Whilst I sadly won’t be joining this flight, I wonder what percentage of passengers have specifically booked to fly on this plane. After all, with the Indonesian Lebaran travel frenzy in full swing, I imagine there will be many passengers who unknowingly booked this maiden flight. More than that, given the airline’s radio silence about this flight, I wonder if there will be any special events marking the launch of the service.

TransNusa’s ARJ21 Cabin (picture: Chinese state media)

Closing thoughts

Well, the cat is out of the bag. Today, TransNusa finally becomes the first foreign commercial operator of the Comac ARJ21. Whilst the cabin offering is honestly nothing to get excited about, there is definitely something special about flying a rare aircraft like this one. In any case, I’d cross my fingers to be able to board and review this aircraft soon!

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