SkyWest Inc. SKYW +14.43% on Wednesday announced plans to buy up to 100 Mitsubishi Regional Jets, becoming the second U.S. carrier to commit to the new plane.
The Japanese company recently revealed a delay to the program but aims to deliver the first of the MRJ jets by the end of 2015. SkyWest would receive its first in 2017, with deliveries running through 2020, according to the agreement in principle signed at the Farnborough International Air Show.
Mitsubishi is trying to break the near duopoly in the regional jet market held by Brazil’s Embraer SA ERJ -7.50% and Bombardier Inc. BBD.B.T -0.74% of Canada, while new rival offerings from state-backed manufacturers in Russia and China face their own challenges.
SkyWest operates the largest regional jet fleet in the U.S. through its SkyWest and Expressjet brands, flying under contract for major network carriers, which have been jettisoning older, more fuel-thirsty planes.
The companies said they aim to sign a definitive deal in the coming weeks, making SkyWest the fourth company to order the MRJ. The order is worth $4.2 billion at list prices, though big orders usually secure large discounts. The MRJ has 130 orders, 70 of them firm.