PARIS: Mitsubishi optimistic over new orders

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Mitsubishi Aircraft remains optimistic about winning new orders for its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) despite no plans to announce new customers at the Paris air show, and says it is in talks with the Japanese government for a potential procurement.

"I'm not going to announce additional orders right now, but soon we will have some. Our sales people are working very hard," said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hideo Egawa.

The airframer is also talking to the Japanese government about the MRJ being a potential replacement for the NAMC YS-11, a 64-seat turboprop aircraft operated by Japan's air force.

"The Japanese government is a great potential customer... we are talking but it's not final yet," said executive vice-president for sales Masao Yamagami.

Mitsubishi Aircraft recently announced its third customer for the MRJ, after signing a memorandum of understanding for five aircraft with Hong Kong-based leasing company ANI Group Holdings, which leases to Indonesian airlines.

ANI has said it could order 20 more aircraft when Mitsubishi produces a MRJ variant for the 100-seat class. Egawa said the company will take this into consideration but added that priority will go towards the MRJ90, followed by the MRJ70.

The MRJ90 will make its first flight in the second quarter of 2012, followed by entry into service in the first quarter of 2014. The programme is on track, said Mitsubishi.