Mitsubishi gets $946 million plane order from U.S. leasing company


Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., the maker of Japan’s first passenger jet, won an order for as many as 20 planes from a U.S. lessor, according to two people familiar with the deal.

The order is for the larger MRJ90, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because a final decision has not been made. An order for 20 jets is valued at $946 million in list prices before customary discounts. The deal will have firm and option components, another person said.

The order gives a boost to the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which made its maiden flight in November. The manufacturer has announced a delay of one year for first delivery until the middle of 2018. The company had 407 orders for its new aircraft, including options and purchase rights, as of the end of last year.

Separately, ATR, the turboprop plane-maker, won an order from an Asian lessor for less than 10 aircraft, according to a person familiar with the plan. An announcement is expected at the Singapore Airshow, the person said, declining to be identified as the information is not public.

Japan is trying break the regional-jet duopoly of Brazil’s Embraer SA and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. with Asia set to become the world’s biggest market for aircraft over the next two decades. Mitsubishi Aircraft is getting a boost as Bombardier is focusing its resources on building its larger C Series jets, which will be able to carry as many as 160 passengers, rather than renew its lineup of planes with under 100 seats.

Airlines will need about 6,350 jets seating 70 to 130 passengers over the 20 years to 2034 as travel demand increases, according to forecasts from Embraer. The Brazilian company is upgrading its jets with new engines to compete with the MRJ and take advantage of rising demand.

Japan’s first new passenger plane in more than 50 years has passed tests for normal use. It is currently undergoing strengthening of the plane’s frame amid concerns it would not pass certification tests to check whether the frame can withstand 150 percent of normal use, the company said in December.

Delivery of the first plane to ANA Holdings Inc. will be pushed back a year to the middle of 2018 to allow time for the changes, the company said at the time.

The two biggest customers for the MRJ are SkyWest Inc. and Trans States Airlines Inc. in North America. Domestically, Mitsubishi Aircraft has also won orders from ANA and Japan Airlines Co., the nation’s biggest carriers.

Mitsubishi is making two versions of the MRJ, which can seat from 78 to 92 passengers. The 92-seat MRJ90 has a list price of $47.3 million, according to the company.