• Bloomberg


Japan Airlines Co. said Thursday it will buy 32 planes from Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. to make its fleet more fuel-efficient.

JAL plans to begin using the regional jet in 2021 on domestic routes, the carrier and Mitsubishi Aircraft said Thursday in a statement.

The airline, which sold shares to the public in 2012 after emerging from bankruptcy, also agreed to buy 27 planes from Brazil-based Embraer SA.

The agreement is Mitsubishi Aircraft’s third this year for planes the manufacturer expects to start delivering in 2017 after test flights next year.

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. unit, which has delayed air trials for Japan’s first passenger jet three times, is challenging Embraer and has set a goal of winning half the global regional aircraft market over the next 20 years.

“The most important matter is that the first test flights of the jet next year should be successful,” said Masanori Wakae, an analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. “If they can make that successful, they will have a chance to get more orders from outside Japan.”

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet reduces fuel consumption by more than 20 percent compared with aircraft in this class currently operating, the company has said.

The JAL order is probably worth a total of around ¥150 billion, sources familiar with the deal said earlier Thursday. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

“The size of JAL’s Mitsubishi order is appropriate, given the outlook for Japan’s declining population and travel demand in rural areas,” said Masaharu Hirokane, an analyst at Nomura Securities Co. “The agreement shows that Japan Airlines has been convinced Mitsubishi will deliver the aircraft on time.”

U.S. carrier SkyWest Inc. is the biggest customer for Mitsubishi so far, with an order for 100 planes and an option for another 100. The Nagoya-based plane maker has also won orders for 25 of the jets from ANA Holdings Inc. and 100 from Trans States Airlines Inc.

The aircraft maker has also said it plans to sell as many as 40 regional jets to U.S. startup Eastern Air Lines Group Inc.

JAL introduced Embraer aircraft to its fleet in 2007, agreeing to buy 15 of the 170 model, which has about 78 seats. Thursday’s agreement covers orders for 15 Embraer planes and options to buy 12 more.

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