India’s fast-growing Kingfisher Airlines took delivery of its seventeenth ATR 72-500 last month. The Bangalore-based carrier holds a firm contract for 35 of the twin turboprops, all equipped with ATR’s “Elegance” cabin.
With its light-emitting diodes and in-flight entertainment systems (see box), the new cabin is central to ATR’s strategy of achieving jet-style comfort with the lower fuel consumption of a turboprop. The IFE systems, provided by Vision Systems at a cost of about $100,000 per aircraft, will also be available on the smaller ATR 42-500 and can be retrofitted.
ATR senior vice president-commercial John Moore told AIN that both models have found success in Asia because they are well suited to difficult operating environments. “Their excellent airfield performance and lower costs compete effectively where fares are low,” he said, claiming that the ATR 72-500 has the lowest cost per seat and lowest trip cost with the lowest fuel burn in its segment of the market. “On a 300-nautical-mile route, the ATR 72-500 burns 1.67 tons of fuel–28 percent less than the 2.13 tons of the Bombardier Q400 and half the 2.57 tons of a regional jet,” Moore said.
New business from the Asia Pacific region constituted just over half of the 113 new orders (plus 26 options) ATR logged during 2007. These included 10 aircraft for customers in the Philippines and 24 for Malaysian operators. ATR achieved record revenues of $1.1 billion last year, delivering 44 aircraft (up from 24 in 2006). Its production backlog stood at 195 aircraft at the end of 2007.
The OEM expects further market penetration with its new -600 version of both the 46- to 50-seat ATR 42-500 and 68- to 74-seat ATR 72-500. The new development promises weight loss, as well as improved reliability and fuel consumption. The -600s will be driven by the more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines and will also feature a new-generation five-screen Thales glass cockpit. Deliveries are due to begin in late 2010. To meet the demand for higher capacity aircraft, ATR engineers are studying a larger version of the turboprop, probably with around 90 seats.
To date, around 35 Asia Pacific operators are operating 150 ATRs, 95 percent of them -72s, and together have a further 108 on order. These include Cebu Pacific of the Philippines, MAS Firefly and MASWings of Malaysia and operators in Vanuatu, Thailand and Vietnam.
ATR has service centers here in Singapore, as well as in Bangalore, India, and Auckland, New Zealand. The company is now preparing to open another facility in Dehli. Flight training in this part of the world is conducted in Bangkok.