Big plane purchase by Air Mandalay

Air Mandalay has placed an order with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation for six MRJ90 aircraft, becoming the first Asian carrier outside to Japan to order the jet, which is being jointly developed with Toyota.

The deal, which also gives Air Mandalay a purchase option for an additional four MRJ90, was signed on the sidelines of the Farnborough Airshow in Britain last week and could be worth as much as US$400 million.

The planes, which are expected to have a capacity of 86-96 seats, are scheduled for delivery from 2018. In the meantime Air Mandalay plans to add six Embraer ERJ planes, the airline said in a statement.

The deals indicate Air Mandalay plans to add regional destinations to its schedule of domestic routes. The airline said only that it is “seeking to expand and enhance its fleet’s capability through the introduction of regional jets” and the MRJ90 aircraft “will provide unprecedented benefits to drive the airline’s expected growth in the region”.

The purchase will dramatically change the make-up of the airline’s fleet, which currently consists of a handful of ageing ATR aircraft servicing 15 local destinations. Established in 1994 as Myanmar’s first privately owned airline, Air Mandalay has struggled to keep up with newer entrants to the market, such as Air Bagan, Asian Wings and Air KBZ.

But the company insisted that the deal will give Air Mandalay “an opportunity to outpace the industry for years to come”.

No details on financing were given but the MRJ90 is thought to have a list price of around $40 million, putting the total deal at up to $400 million.


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