SkyWest Inc. has agreed to buy 100 regional passenger jets from Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. in a deal that probably constitutes the biggest cash outlay for aircraft in the company's history.
"We have agreed to all the major terms and conditions," Mike Kraupp, chief financial officer of St. George-based SkyWest, said Wednesday.
Kraupp said the price SkyWest will pay for the planes, which have as many as 90 seats, may be revealed when a final agreement is signed "fairly soon." The committment is valued at $4.2 billion, but Kraupp said that figure is only a list price. He also declined to say how the purchase will be financed.
"I can't tell you what it's going to cost. We haven't announced that. And usually when people do that, all they disclose are list prices anyway, which are meaningless because when people buy the aircraft it's at a discount," he said.
Nevertheless, the order will be "probably, monetarily," the company's biggest aircraft purchase since SkyWest was established 40 years ago.
Mitsubishi officials were unavailable for comment.
SkyWest will take delivery of the jets from 2017 to 2020. The order is for 90-seat MRJ 90 regional jets, although SkyWest has the right to buy some smaller 70-seat MRJ aircraft if it wishes. The jets will replace a number of older, less-efficient Bombardier 50- and 70-seat regional jets that SkyWest expects to retire from its fleet of 725 aircraft.
"The fuel burns on this aircraft are very good compared to what we have today and compared to what other [aircraft manufacturers] are offering out there," Kraupp said.
"So it's taking advantage of new technology, and it provides a good new clean-green type of aircraft for the future."
SkyWest is the parent company of SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines. The subsidiaries operate regional flights for Delta Air lines, United Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines.
Mitsubishi Aircraft was established in 2008. None of its aircraft are in commercial service yet. Earlier this year, the company said it expects to deliver its first MRJs to customers in 2015.