A takeover by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd of rival Bombardier Inc’s CRJ regional jet programme would “make sense,” according to an executive at the Japanese company’s aviation segment, raising the possibility that a deal may soon be reached.
“It would make a lot of sense in the context of developing and delivering global aircraft,” Steve Haro, vice president in charge of global marketing and strategy at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, said Monday on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show. He declined to comment on ongoing talks, which the companies confirmed earlier this month, or whether an agreement could be announced this week.
“You’ll hear about new strategic partnerships in the next few days,” he said.
Mitsubishi is showcasing SpaceJet regional aircraft, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s. A move to acquire Bombardier’s CRJ would end the Canadian industrial champion’s involvement in the commercial aviation sector after Airbus SE acquired its C Series last year. Further evidence of a shake up in the manufacture of smaller jetliners is Boeing’s plan to take over the commercial plane-making unit of Embraer SA of Brazil.
Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet M90, formerly called the MRJ90, can have 76 to 88 seats, with deliveries starting in 2020 depending on orders, according to Alex Bellamy, chief development officer at Mitsubishi Aircraft.
A second plane, the SpaceJet 100 or the M100, is scheduled for 2023 and is aimed at the US market with between 65 and 88 seats, while an M200 is envisaged down the line, executives said. The Japanese manufacturer is using the industry gathering to go on a marketing blitz after the airplane suffered multiple delays and setbacks.
Mitsubishi Heavy, a longtime supplier to Boeing Co, is betting the timing is ripe for a new regional plane as more smaller cities across the globe seek to link up with each other. The duopoly of Bombardier and Embraer, which has long dominated the market for regional commercial jets, is looking at other segments – with the Canadian company chiefly focused on rail.
The US makes up 40% of the regional jet market, with 63% of the airports in the country only serving that category of aircraft, according to Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi has spent at least $2bn over more than a decade on developing its aircraft business, which has been beset by delays because of production difficulties. The company had initially planned test flights in 2012, but only began certification flights in the US earlier this year.
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