Tokyo - The Malaysian low-cost operator AirAsia considers ordering Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), the first commercial plane project of Japan which suffers from repeated delays.
Air Asia seems ready to show its support to the long-delayed regional jet of Japan by ordering the aircraft. In return, the carrier seeks for privilege from Japanese regulators to secure more slots at Japanese airports.
I had a talk last week with Mitsubishi in Tokyo since we are looking at MRJ planes. If AirAsia buys the MRJ, that is huge for Mitsubishi, as we are the No. 1 customer for Airbus.Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes said at the Nikkei Global Management Forum in Tokyo.
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), SkyWest, AeroLease Aviation are among the few who have already ordered the Jet.
Mitsubishi Aircraft had to delay deliveries of its regional jet five times from the initial target of 2013 because of the program shortfalls. The manufacturer set the year 2020 as the current delivery target.
Last week, Mitsubishi announced that it would add $1.9 billion into the program to solve the liability problems.
The Japanese subsidiary of Air Asia is based in Aichi Prefecture, where the MRJ is under development. Depending on the price, the airline would decide how many copies to order, Fernandes said.
Air Asia has 100 Airbus A330neo in its order book, which will start to be delivered at the end of 2019. The airline is now looking for smaller planes to serve small airports on islands around the region. With its 70 to 90 seat capacity, The MRJ is suitable for this task.
AirAsia serves more than 130 destinations in 25 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Its Japanese subsidiary, however, currently serves on only one route linking Nagoya and Sapporo because of the restrictions from Japanese authorities.