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Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy asks other companies to take on idle workers: sources

By Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries <7011.T> (MHI) said it has asked several other companies to temporarily employ idle workers from its factories in central Japan in a bid to cut costs and weather a downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic, two sources told Reuters.

MHI has approached firms in Aichi Prefecture including Toyota Motor Corp-affiliated parts maker Toyoda Gosei <7282.T>, about transferring dozens of workers for up to three years from January, the sources with knowledge of the plan said.

They asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

"We are adjusting workforce levels through secondments, but we don't disclose the details," a spokesmen for MHI said. A Toyoda Gosei spokesman said he was unable to immediately comment.

Japan's biggest heavy machinery maker will on Friday release results for the three months ended Sept 30, after posting a 71.3 billion yen ($680 million) operating loss in the first quarter.

Local media reports and sources say MHI may also announce a new business plan that will include freezing development of its SpaceJet regional jet as airlines, including launch customer ANA Holdings <9202.T>, rein in costs to cope with a collapse in air travel.

Encouraged by the Japanese government, MHI started the SpaceJet programme in a bid to become a global commercial plane maker. Technical problems, however, forced it to delay its first delivery to ANA six times from 2013 to the end of March 2022.

MHI is also a key aircraft parts supplier to commercial aircraft builders Boeing Co and Airbus SE , which have also been hurt as airlines struggle to survive.

ANA, Japan's biggest carrier, on Tuesday said it plans to send more than 400 people to work elsewhere after it forecast an operating loss of 505 billion yen in the year to March 31.

(Reporting by Maki Shiraki; writing by Eimi Yamamitsu and Tim Kelly; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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