ATR Racks Up Orders for 72-600s

 - October 4, 2011, 8:15 PM

ATR collected orders for a total of 19 new ATR 72-600s from two customers last month, one of which also announced plans to lease another nine of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M-powered turboprops.

First, Brazil’s Trip Linhas Aéreas announced plans to acquire 18 new 68-seat ATR 72-600s and reserve options on another 22. The plans call for the airline to order nine ATR-600s directly from the manufacturer and lease another nine from Air Lease Corp. and Gecas. A day later EVA Air subsidiary UNI Air signed a contract with the Franco-Italian turboprop manufacturer to buy 10 ATR 72-600s during a ceremony at its home base in Taiwan.

The addition of the 18 airplanes to the Trip fleet would make it the largest ATR operator in the world, with 51 of the turboprops. American Eagle operates the largest fleet now, with 39 aircraft.

Trip plans to use the extra capacity to expand its domestic network with new destinations and add frequency on growing routes it already services. The airplanes’ short-field performance will allow access to the most restricted airports in Brazil, ATR said.

In business for 13 years, Trip served 85 cities and flew about 5 million passengers last year and now flies a fleet of some 50 aircraft, including nine Embraer E175s and seven E190s. Controlled by the Caprioli and Aguia Branca groups, it also counts as an investor SkyWest Airlines of the U.S., which holds a 20-percent share of its capital.

“Brazil is providing us huge commercial opportunities as airlines want to expand their regional networks with the most fuel-efficient and environmental friendly aircraft,” said ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato. “We are proud that our aircraft are becoming popular aircraft across the country. There are some 50 already flying, while [another] 40 aircraft will join in the next three years.”

Meanwhile, ATR plans to start delivering 600 Series airplanes to Taiwan’s UNI Air during next year’s third quarter.

UNI Air plans to replace its aging de Havilland Dash 8-300s with the latest variant of the ATR 72 series, equipped with a new Thales avionics suite, a new interior and more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines.

“This contract confirms the attractiveness of our aircraft in the rapidly growing Asian region,” said Bagnato. “In the last several years, Asia and the Pacific region have represented some 50 percent of our total order intake.”

ATR’s delivery schedule currently includes some 100 aircraft on order for Asia-Pacific carriers.