By Maki Shiraki
NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd <7011.T> is on track to deliver its repeatedly delayed commercial jet by mid-2020, the head of its aircraft unit said, despite a risk of an order cancellation.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) aircraft has been delayed five times from an original delivery target of 2013, leading to spiraling costs. News this month that an order for the aircraft from Eastern Air Lines was "likely to be lost" has spurred more questions about the outlook of the project.
"We are proceeding pretty much in line with plans," said Hisakazu Mizutani, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, referring to the mid-2020 deadline. "We can just about make it."
He was speaking to reporters in Nagoya on Dec. 8, on the condition that his comments not be published until Jan 1.
Mizutani said the planemaker was at risk of losing Eastern Air Lines' order for 20 MRJ aircraft with an option for 20 more, but that it was "continuing conversations" with the airline.
Mitsubishi Aircraft said the order has not yet been canceled.
Overall, the Mitsubishi unit has orders for 233 of the 90-seat aircraft, the company has said previously, and aims to sell more than 1,000 of the planes over two decades.
Buyers such as ANA Holdings <9202.T> have said they have no plans to cancel orders despite the delays.
Mitsubishi Aircraft is majority owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, with Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> and Mitsubishi Corp <8058.T> also holding stakes.
(Reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Ritsuko Ando and Himani Sarkar)