FARNBOROUGH: SkyWest commitment could be major boost for MRJ programme

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Mitsubishi Aircraft and US regional airline owner SkyWest Airlines Inc have reached an agreement in principle for 100 of the airframer's Mitsubishi Regional Jets.

The agreement is expected to be turned into a firm order "within a few weeks", says Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hideo Egawa. The deal is worth $4.2 billion at list prices.

The agreement is for the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G-powered MRJ90, with the option to convert to the 70-seat MRJ70 variant, he adds. Delivery of the aircraft is scheduled to begin in 2017 through to 2020.

Representatives from SkyWest were, however, not present at the announcement made at the Farnborough air show earlier today.

"We have been holding many discussions with SkyWest at the show. But the teams from both companies are now trying to conclude the deal," says Egawa.

In a press statement, SkyWest president Bradford Rich says the agreement is a result of a co-operative partnership which will "create long-term value for both parties".

If the deal is finalised, it will take Mitsubishi's backlog to 170 firm orders with 60 options.

Delays have pushed first flight to the fourth quarter of 2013 and entry into service of the aircraft has been postponed to the third quarter of 2015.

SkyWest is the holding company for SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines, and is a major operator of Bombardier and Embraer regional jets.