US-based lessor Aerolease Aviation has cancelled its commitments for Mitsubishi Aircraft’s SpaceJet programme, the airframer has disclosed.
The “mutual agreement” to end the contract between both parties took place on 31 December 2020, and comes after parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) imposed a freeze on the regional aircraft programme, which had been long plagued by developmental delays.
Aerolease signed for 10 examples of the aircraft (then known as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet) in 2016, with options for 10 more aircraft.
Both parties add that they will “revisit a re-contract again when development resumes”.
Says Jep Thornton, managing partner of Aerolease Aviation: “It is clear to us that the market is in need of such an aircraft and that creates a unique opportunity. Although our agreement with Mitsubishi Aircraft has ended at the end of 2020, we wish the team success in eventually restarting the program as soon as practicable and we remain interested in resuming our relationship with them when that happens.”
The cancellation — the first in more than a year — is the latest blow to afflict the beleaguered SpaceJet programme.
In December, it was reported that Mitsubushi Aircraft had slashed 95% of its staff, leaving behind a skeletal workforce of just 150 employees.
In late October, MHI announced that it would further cut the budget of — and put a “temporary pause” on — the SpaceJet programme, as it mulls a “possible programme restart”.
In its medium-term business plan, MHI added that it will, however, still carry on with type certification documentation efforts.
In October 2019, US regional operator Trans States Holdings cancelled its orders — for 50 examples and another 50 options — for the type.
With Aerolease’s cancellation, the total number of firm orders for the SpaceJet now stands at 153, the majority of them to Japanese carriers. Mitsubishi Aircraft also has 114 options for the type, according to Cirium fleets data.