ALTA: Mitsubishi plays down SkyWest's remarks on MRJ

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Mitsubishi Aircraft has sought to play down recent comments by customer SkyWest that suggested the US regional carrier could cancel its MRJ order if delays to the programme continue.

"SkyWest is very committed to this programme," says Mitsubishi's head of sales Yugo Fukuhara. "We have an excellent relationship with them."

During the carrier's earnings call on 6 November, SkyWest president Brad Rich said that Mitsubishi needs to deliver the MRJ "in a timeframe that makes sense for us". He warned: "If that doesn’t happen, we have no financial obligations or commitments to take the type."

SkyWest chief executive Jerry Atkins told Flightglobal earlier this month that the airline expects its first MRJ in late 2018. Mitsubishi announced in August the latest delay to the programme, pushing first flight back to the second quarter of 2015 and delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways back to the second quarter of 2017.

Fukuhara declines to confirm the 2018 delivery date for SkyWest, saying that the schedule is still being discussed. However, Utah-based SkyWest will receive its aircraft after Trans States Holdings, which ordered the aircraft before SkyWest did, says Fukuhara.

Mitsubishi believes it will be able to meet the new programme schedule. Fukuhara says the next steps in the programme, such as ground tests, are relatively straightforward. "We don't expect any procedural issues," he says.