Hong Kong-based leasing company ANI Group Holdings has inked a memorandum of understanding to buy five Mitsubishi MRJ regional jets.

ANI is a unit of Aero Nusantara Indonesia, an Indonesian maintenance, repair and overhaul firm that also leases aircraft to five carriers in the country.

The leasing company has not said whether it is taking the MRJ70 or MRJ90 variant. However, it said that it could order an additional 20 MRJs when Mitsubishi expands to cover the 100-seat class. The MRJ100 is still being studied and Mitsubishi has not made a decision on whether it would go ahead with the variant.

"We are very proud to be the first client for the MRJ in Asia outside of Japan. Indonesia is a rapidly developing market. Since this country is formed by more than 17,000 islands, has a population of more than 240 million people, and has a rapidly growing economy, airplane travel from city to city will undoubtedly increase as time goes on. Regional jets will therefore be essential for Indonesia," said ANI.

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"We are expecting that the MRJ would form a family of competitive aircraft and we are considering an additional order of 20 when MRJ family is expanded to cover the 100-seat class. We are looking forward to receiving the MRJ and beginning operations in Indonesia."

Mitsubishi said that the deal with ANI will help it to market the MRJ in Asia.

"We have been strengthening our sales activities in the fast-growing Asian market. We are very excited to have ANI Group Holdings as our customer. We hope our next-generation MRJ regional jet will contribute to the business at ANI Group Holdings. This new order has encouraged us to boost our sales activities not only in Asia but in other world markets as well," said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hideo Egawa.

Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA), which helped launch the MRJ programme, has a firm order for 15 aircraft and 10 options. Trans States Holdings in the USA has a firm order for 50 MRJs and 50 options.

The MRJ is scheduled to make its first flight in the second quarter of 2012, with first delivery to ANA scheduled for the first quarter of 2014.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news