One of China's newest airlines, LongJiang Airlines (LT, Harbin), is already keen to expand its operations, with plans to add five aircraft this year, and an ambitious strategy to connect to Sydney Kingsford Smith and San Francisco, CA by 2019, reports Orient Aviation.

Based in Harbin, LongJiang secured its air operator's certificate (AOC) in February 2017, connecting Harbin to Zhuhai via Hefei using two A321-200 aircraft leased from the China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC). However, a dispute in June led to CALC cancelling the lease agreements. The airline told Orient Aviation that there was a "deposit issue" and it is considering suing CALC over the matter. According to ch-aviation analysis of FlightRadar24 ADS-B data, LongJiang continues operating with one of its two CALC A321s, B-8578 (msn 4648).

Despite these hiccups, and having only one aircraft operational, LongJiang nevertheless has grand expansion plans. It wants to add an additional A321 and four A320s this year, another seven A320s in 2018, and two A330-300s and seven more A320s in 2019. The A330s would immediately be put to use on Sydney services, followed shortly after by Singapore Changi.

An additional seven A320s and two A330s are planned for 2020, and six A320s and three A330s in 2021.

With all that additional metal, LongJiang hopes to add San Francisco to its network in 2020, followed by Melbourne Tullamarine, London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Los Angeles Int'l.

Currently, LongJiang is a relative small player, even in Harbin. China Southern Airlines (CZ, Guangzhou) has a base at the north-east Chinese city, and offers almost 40,000 seats per week, while Sichuan Airlines (3U, Chengdu) and China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao) offer 25,000 and 20,000 respectively. The airport is very well connected to seventy-three domestic Chinese destinations, as well as Seoul Incheon, Taipei Taoyuan, Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Niigata, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk Int'l, Krasnoyarsk Yemelyanovo, Novosibirsk and Yakutsk regionally.