DUBAI (AFP) — Dubai-based airline Emirates on Tuesday denied reports it is planning to buy a new regional passenger jet under development in Japan -- the first such aircraft to be built in the country.
Japan's Kyodo News, quoting an unnamed source familiar with the matter, said Emirates was in talks over the purchase of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which would seat 70 to 90 passengers.
But a spokesman for Emirates told AFP in Dubai it did not plan to buy any of the jets, which are billed as the most quiet, light and fuel-efficient model in their class and are being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
"Emirates has always operated an all wide-body aircraft fleet, and we have no intention of purchasing any regional jets for our business," he said.
Mitsubishi has said it would decide by the end of March whether to go ahead with the project based on the level of interest among airlines.
Kyodo News said Vietnam Airlines was considering buying about 20 of the jets, while US and European carriers were also showing interest in the aircraft, which could enter service in 2012.
Japan's All Nippon Airways has also said it is considering buying the new fuel-efficient regional plane if it is built, and Japan Airlines is reported to have shown interest in the jet.
If it becomes a reality, the aircraft would be the first commercial passenger aircraft in four decades -- and the first ever jet airplane -- to be built in Japan.
Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. said this month it was considering giving its financial backing to the venture.
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