Indonesia’s Lion Air on Thursday inked a firm contract for another 27 ATR 72-600s, raising its order total for the new Franco-Italian turboprops to 40 and making it the manufacturer’s largest customer for ATR 72s. Regional subsidiary Wings Air already operates 16 ATR 72-500s and awaits delivery on four more. Deliveries of Lion Air’s first ATR 72-600 will start in November and run into 2015, Wings Air chairman and Lion Air president Pak Ruski Kirana told a packed assemblage of reporters and officials at the ATR stand. ATR places the value of this latest order at $610 million.
Since 2010, when Wings Air took its first ATR, the regional airline has led the development of connecting routes of up to an hour in duration across Indonesia, adding frequencies into the most popular routes and feeding Lion Air’s Boeing 737-900ER operations at its hubs in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Denspasar, Medan, Batam, Makasar, Ambon and Menado. Most recently, Wings Air has begun to develop transport links into more remote areas of the country.
Plans call for the next 44 Wings Air ATR 72-500s/600s to develop new routes departing mainly from Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulewesi and Papua islands, said Kirana. Some will also replace Wings Air MD-80s and complement Lion Air 737s that operate from those airports, adding flight frequency into the network.
“Our fleet of ATR 72s is playing a major role in the development and democratization of the aviation services in Indonesia, bringing new travel possibilities at low rates to an increasing part of the population,” added Kirana. “With the ATRs, Wings Air is also contributing to the development of business opportunities across the country and developing tourism in regions like Java, Bali and Nusantagara.
At the ATR event, Kirana said the airline could certainly use turboprops that can hold more than the 68 passengers the ATR 72 carries for the larger cities in its network. ATR continues to study the possibility of developing a turboprop that could transport as many as 100 passengers. ATR hopes to make a decision some this year or next.
“My plans are to satisfy my customer’s request,” said ATR CEO Filipo Bagnato. “We are preparing the baseline [specifications for] a larger turboprop.”
The Asia Pacific region has accounted for more than 40 percent of the sales ATR has registered since 2005. Today, some 250 ATRs operate for Asia Pacific carriers, and ATR’s backlog includes another 80.