The deal is somewhat a mystery to me as the Chinese government lets one of the largest potential customers for the ARJ-21 slip to a foreign manufacturer without really gaining much. The ERJ-145 manufacturing operation is nice, but in terms of technology there is no longer much to gain. For their ambitious plans to build a widebody the Embraer 170 series would be a far more interesting target for licence production with some possible spill-over effects for the ARJ-21.
What is unusual as well: Xinhua indicates that Grand China Express will have a virtual monopoly on regional services, which have been described as " feeder services", which would indicate that they [Hainan] want to set up a large-scale hub-and-spoke operation. That raises the question: why set up a large hub operation when you are by far not having enough long-haul equipment and [apparently] many markets could easily sustain long-hauls with local O&D. Plus that fact that this regional operation will drain much needed pilot resources from the already supposed to be tight market.
Why baffles me even more: there are so many more low-hanging fruit (=A320/B737 routes)all across China, why spend time and money on a regional operation which a) can only be a door-opener for future NB
services and b) which is a hub-and-spoke operation with the initiating carrier having close to no resources to actually use this feed [and will likely have only limited WB resources in 2012 as well]?
So: why this order, and why this large? Or is there more to the deal we don´t know?