Guizhou is a mountainous province in the Southwest of China bordering Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan and Chongqing. Its geography has led to it being one of China's poorest provinces and it suffers from drought and desertification, whilst paradoxically also being of China's major biodiversity hotspots. Its capital city is Guiyang, home to just over 4 million people and served by the Guiyang Longdongbao International Airport. In 2011 this hub handled over 7 million passengers and was China's 25th busiest airport. Traffic is split between all of the big four with China Southern having the largest operation. Until late 2015 however it had no local airline of its own.
Interestingly unlike the majority of new startups Colorful Guizhou did not choose 737NGs or A320 series aircraft and instead settled on Embraers as its initial equipment. This is despite the airline positioning itself as a low cost regional carrier. An order was placed with Embraer at the 51st Paris Air Show in June 2015 for 7 firm commitments for EMB-190s.
Impressively Colorful Guizhou was able to get operations underway in only 216 days and following delivery of its first E190 (B-3115) on December 5 and second (B-3116) on December 19 services were begun on December 31. The first route connected Guiyang to Bijie (a city of over 6 million also in Guizhou). Further destinations have since been added including Ningbo, Tianjin and Zhuhai.
The fleet expanded to four aircraft by August with B-3225 arriving in April and B-3240 in mid August. By the end of January the airline was carrying 5,600 passengers a month but this had more than doubled to 12,300 by April. By June 2016 this had doubled again to 23,300 passengers with more than 140,000 passengers carried in total by September. The airline has plans to grow its fleet to 30 aircraft by 2020.
Colorful Guizhou continues to show its commitment to Embraer and on September 5 signed an agreement for a further 5 EMB-190s (2 firm and 3 options) at an estimated price of USD249 million. The airline's chairman Zhai Yan had this to say:
"As a newly-established and the first locally-owned airline in Guizhou province, Colorful Guizhou Airlines needs mature aircraft and services to guarantee our steady operation. Based on the aircraft's performance during the past eight months, we are glad we picked Embraer's E190, an aircraft model with good economy, unparalleled cabin comfort, and high reliability, which has enabled us to provide passengers with a good travel experience. We hope that the E190 fleet can help us build a sky passageway inside and beyond Guizhou province, and eventually contribute to improving the connectivity of China's Southwest Region"
Certainly Embraer is very keen to assist the new startup and happy to confirm its place as the leading seller of regional aircraft in China where it has sold 228 units to date. Despite the usual strong competition from the encumbent big 4 airlines it seems Colorful Guizhou is intent on carving out a new niche in the Southwest of China it calls home.
Coloful Guizhou Airlines, Wikipedia
2016, Sept. Embraer Signs Sales Agreement with Colorful Guizhou Airlines for Five E190s. China Aviation Daily
Colorful Guizhou Airlines. CAPA
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: