XIAMEN, May 27 (Xinhua) -- China's Xiamen Airlines welcomed the 200th member of its fleet as its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft started commercial flight on Sunday.
With a white egret logo on its tail fin, the latest model of the Boeing 737 family started its maiden trip for Xiamen Airlines on a direct air route from southeast China's Xiamen to the eastern city of Shanghai.
"Born in 1984 in the Xiamen Special Economic Zone, Xiamen Airlines is the epitome of China's surging civil aviation amid the country's reform and opening," said Che Shanglun, chairman with Xiamen Airlines.
The airline has achieved total profits of 10 billion yuan (about 1.57 billion U.S. dollars). It has also celebrated 31 consecutive years of profitability.
"It's a milestone of Xiamen Airlines to become a big carrier with the 200th aircraft joining the fleet," said Che, adding that the airline doubled its fleet from 100 to 200 in less than four and a half years.
"Boeing has had a very special relationship with Xiamen Airlines in the past three decades. Now it receives its 737 MAX, which will surely make it more profitable," said Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"With the delivery of this aircraft, we hope it begins the next chapter of our long-term relationship," he said.
As the latest member of the Boeing 737 narrow-body aircraft family, the 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing's history. Boeing has gotten more than 4,500 orders from nearly 100 customers worldwide.
The 737 MAX boasts advanced technology winglets and LEAP-1B engines, which contribute to its reduced fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions compared to the single-aisle airplanes it replaces.
In 2017, Boeing delivered a record high of 202 new aircraft to China, representing its sixth consecutive year of more than 140 deliveries to the country, according to Boeing China.
Boeing's global deliveries of commercial aircraft reached 763 in 2017, with those to China making up 26 percent.
Now, each one of three Boeing narrow-body 737 family aircraft is made for the Chinese customers.
China's surging aviation industry has been creating great opportunities for global companies, especially U.S. giants and many enterprises on the extensive industrial chain, said insiders in the aviation industry.
As an air carrier of all-Boeing fleet, Xiamen Airlines uses the fleet of 737s, 757s, and 787 Dreamliners to expand its airline network home and abroad, including ten transcontinental air routes.
Che announced that the airline has set a target to expand its Boeing fleet to 560 by 2035, similar to the current fleet size of the country's biggest carrier, China Southern Airlines.