Posted on: 11 July 2016 by Mark Howells
Stockholm-based leasing company Rockton has signed a Letter of Intent with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation for 10 firm MRJ90 with 10 options.
Yugo Fukuhara, the OEM’s vice-president and general manager, sales and marketing, reported that deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2020 and that the deal makes Rockton the first European company to commit to the aircraft and the second lessor worldwide after AeroLease.
Hiromichi Morimoto, president, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, said the company is hoping to conclude the purchase agreement within a couple of months. “And we’ve almost finalised the definitive agreement with AeroLease and should be able to announce that very soon,” he remarked. “I believe this deal [with Rockton] will give us huge momentum to expand the customer base in Europe.”
Rockton president, Nicklas Lund, explained the company’s current position as an operating lessor with a fleet of 28 turboprops. Among its existing customers are airlines such as Eastern Airways, Loganair, Braathens Regional (BRA) and Widerøe. “While we currently have turboprops, we have been looking at jets for a while, which has ended up in this deal. We want to add further aircraft at a pace which we find comfortable.
On the choice of the MRJ, Lund said the company saw the aircraft family as a game-changer in the 70-90 seat market. “It has great passenger comfort, great avionics and that Pratt & Whitney engine, so we see it creating long-term asset value. We have been looking at different RJs for a couple of years. And we’ve been negotiating this since late last fall [autumn].
“There is fantastic devotion to this project from Mitsubishi. And having a strong OEM gives us great comfort,” Lund added. He also noted that Rockton plans to expand its fleet “perhaps by 10-15 more aircraft” over the next couple of years and certainly before the MRJs start to arrive.
Lund confirmed that there are no strong discussions with potential customers at the current time and also that Rockton can switch any of the orders or options to MRJ70s should the need require and if the lead time to delivery is long enough.
Finally, Fukuhara noted that more than 100 flight hours have now been accrued in the flight test programme from more than 40 flights. The company plans to ferry the first test aircraft to its Moses Lake, USA, facility during this summer, and plans to have four aircraft there by the year-end.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/laranews.net