Mitsubishi Aircraft is not immediately expecting an MRJ order from the leasing community, despite the regional jet type having amassed 191 firm orders plus 184 option or purchase-right commitments.

"We are in discussions with certain lessors," the Japanese airframer's executive vice-president of sales and marketing Masao Yamagami told Flightglobal at the general assembly of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) in Barcelona yesterday.

He says lessors generally need a larger customer base before committing for an order.

"Our sales team has done a good job in securing six customers, but we don't have the customer base yet for lessors," he says.

"It may take another couple of years to get an order from the lessors on a speculative basis," he says.

Yet Yamagami is comfortable with the strength of the orderbook: "Those airlines are strong credit customers and there may be some opportunities in the sale-and-leaseback market," he says.

Although the MRJ's planned service entry is two-and-a-half years away, Yamagami expects Japanese institutions to support the MRJ programme in terms of financing. However, export credit support may not be the only option.

"We have been discussing with JBIC [Japan Bank for International Cooperation] and NEXI [Nippon Export and Investment Insurance] to support sales," he says, "but the new ASU [Aircraft Sector Understanding] is not so competitive."

Commercial debt is plentiful and cheap now, but ultimately the customer will decide the form of financing, says Yamagami.

The 191 firm orders in the MRJ backlog come from five customers: All Nippon Airways, Air Mandalay, Eastern Air Lines, SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Holdings.

The MRJ roll-out is scheduled for 18 October, and the first flight is planned for the second quarter of next year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard