SkyWest could cancel MRJ order if delays mount

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Utah-based regional carrier SkyWest Inc could cancel its order for 100 Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ regional jets if the project’s current delays continue.

“The folks at Mitsubishi have to deliver the airplane that’s advertised and they need to do it in a timeframe that makes sense for us,” says Brad Rich, president of Skywest, during an earnings call today. “If that doesn’t happen, we have no financial obligations or commitments to take the type.”

Despite the caution, he reiterates that the airline remains committed to the programme currently.

SkyWest was scheduled to take its first MRJ90 in 2017, however, the first delivery of the aircraft to Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has been delayed 15 months to the second quarter of 2017 – likely delaying the US carrier’s first delivery into 2018 at the earliest.

“The timing is not particularly helpful,” says Rich. “The MRJ order for us is kind of that bridge agreement and the further the delays, it compromises that for us a bit.”

Neither he nor MRJ have commented on when the first delivery to SkyWest will occur.

“We are discussing new delivery schedules with customers," said Yugo Fukuhara, head of sales at Mitsubishi Aircraft, in October. "We believe existing customers will support the programme.”

The airframer began final assembly of the first flight-test MRJ at its Nagoya facility in October.

SkyWest’s order includes 100 MRJ90s as well as 100 options for the type, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows.