Mitsubishi aims for 30 per cent of regional jet market

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. is hoping to capture 30 per cent of the short-haul market in 10 years with its new jet, Japan's first domestically developed passenger aircraft.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), to be built in 70-seat and 90-seat variants, will be more fuel efficient and help airlines cut operating costs by as much as $20m over the next 20 years, said Yosuke Takigawa, senior vice president of sales and marketing. The 90-seater will be priced at around $40m, he said.

Mitsubishi is keen to drum up more business for the MRJ, which is likely to compete against Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's regional jet series.

The MRJ project is seen by some as Japan's final hope for aircraft manufacturing with the first aircraft expected to go into service in 2014.

"The airline market is still undergoing a tough time, but we expect a big potential in the regional jet market," Takigawa told Reuters at the Singapore Airshow. The company's initial plan is to raise MRJ's presence in Southeast Asia and India, he said.

Mitsubishi Aircraft, owned 64 per cent by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has so far received orders for 125 aircraft, including 25 from All Nippon Airways.

"Since there will be a number of Embraer aircraft that will see their current leasing contracts ending in or around 2014, our entry to the market (in 2014) would be timely in order to win customers," Takigawa said.

Takigawa said the company is also looking to finalise its first sales deal with Japan Airlines (JAL), which filed for bankruptcy on 19 January.

Under the government-led restructuring planned for JAL, the carrier plans to reconfigure its fleet by retiring all of its 37 Boeing 747-400 and all 16 McDonnell Douglas MD-90 planes to buy smaller aircraft to take their place.

JAL bankruptcy forces service cuts

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