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Mitsubishi Heavy to close two SpaceJet offices in North America

Employment threatened as the troubled company halts development of regional jet

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' SpaceJet on display at the Paris Air Show in June 2019: The passenger jet has been delayed further by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will close two of its three offices for SpaceJet aircraft subsidiary Mitsubishi Aircraft in North America, plans that are likely to affect a few hundred jobs, Nikkei has learned.

Closing will be the U.S. headquarters of Mitsubishi Aircraft in Renton, Washington, and another office that does design work in Canada's Quebec. The test flight site in Washington state's Moses Lake remains, but the number of staff will be reduced.

The two sites opened in 2019, ahead of the planned launch of SpaceJet, the Japanese-made regional jet. Estimates say these facilities have a few hundred employees. While Mitsubishi Heavy plans to relocate staff to Japan, local employment will be affected.

Mitsubishi's SpaceJet program was hit by demand uncertainties as the novel coronavirus swept the world. These came on top of technical delays.

As the company scales down development in Japan, it is also reviewing operations abroad.

The 90-seat class aircraft was scheduled to be delivered after 2021, but mass production was halted. Development of a 70-seat class planned to be delivered in 2023 also has ceased.

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