Posted on: 16 February 2016 by Mark Howells
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has signed a Letter of Intent with Miami-based Aerolease Aviation for 10 firm MRJ90 plus 10 options, making Aerolease the first leasing company to commit to the aircraft family.
Yugo Fukuhara, vice-president and general manager, sales and marketing, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation announced that deliveries will begin in 2018. “The current status of the deal is an LOI but we expect to make that firm within the next couple of months.
This was confirmed by Jep Thornton, partner, Aerolease Aviation, who reported that the parties came to basic terms on the deal just before the holiday season at the end of 2015. “We’ve now worked through on the major business terms, all of which have been agreed,” he remarked.
Aerolease Aviation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and this purchase is its first ever order of brand new aircraft from a manufacturer. “Previously we dealt with used aircraft and now control, own or manage around 40 aircraft.”
Thornton noted Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ record for aerospace technology including its work on Boeing 787 wings and 777 fuselages. “That capability plus the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine and Rockwell Collins’ avionics make an aircraft that will be important for many decades,” he explained. “Also, emissions are going to be increasingly important in the future and this aircraft deals with that and with noise.”
Hiromichi Morimoto, president, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, commented, “This order is of significant importance to the MRJ programme. We believe the asset value of the MRJ has now been recognised in the leasing community.
Asked about the potential placement of the aircraft, Thornton said that although “it’s still a little early”, the lessor is involved in “a lot of discussions” with a number of airlines.
“Clearly there is an interest for what the MRJ does,” he added. “We have to go out into the market, but now we can put pen to paper, which we couldn’t before. We see Africa as a potential and we think there are markets in Europe.
“Our goal is to expand the user base of the MRJ. That’s our primary focus right now,” Thornton emphasised.
Regarding Aerolease’s confidence that there won’t be further delays, Thornton responded, “Obviously it’s a concern, but we believe that Mitsubishi has the capability. Boeing had problems with the 787, but you can see now how successful the 787 is and we believe that this will also be successful. Becoming a partner with Mitsubishi and Pratt & Whitney is the right thing.”
Morimoto backed up the point. “I don’t think our current schedule should be postponed again. In fact, we planned to transport four aircraft to the US in the autumn, but now plan to accelerate this and take those aircraft there in the summer,” he reported.
Photo shows: Hiromichi Morimoto, president, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, and Jep Thornton, partner, Aerolease Aviation with a framed copy of the signed Letter of Intent.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net