Mitsubishi Heavy to halt SpaceJet production and halve staff

TOKYO — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will sharply scaled down its long-troubled SpaceJet program as it faces a global drop in demand for the planned Japanese-made regional jet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Subsidiary Mitsubishi Aircraft will halt plans for mass production of the 90-seat plane owing partly to delays in parts deliveries, according to an internal notice sent to staff.

Development of the prototype jet is severely stalled, and the novel coronavirus epidemic has held up the process for receiving type certification.

As a result, Mitsubishi Aircraft will postpone once again the delivery of the first SpaceJet to All Nippon Airways, which was due next year at the soonest. Delivery of the aircraft has been delayed multiple times since the initial due date in 2013.

Mitsubishi Aircraft, based in Aichi Prefecture, will reduce its staff of about 1,500 people by roughly half. Those affected apparently will be relocated to the Mitsubishi Heavy parent company or other operations within the group.

Mitsubishi Heavy has already revealed that it will restructure the development of the 70-seat SpaceJet model designed for the North American market. Because of the delay in developing that model, development costs for the current fiscal year ending March 2021 will be reduced by half compared with the previous financial year.

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