Last year saw reasonably brisk activity in the regional turboprop business, as the Western world’s remaining players scrambled to hold their positions during a period of continuing sluggishness in the air-transport sector.
Siberian regional airline UTair has selected the Franco-Italian ATR 42 as its primary growth platform in the first-ever open tender for regional turboprops held by a Russian airline. UTair, ATR and Irish leasing company Magellan Air signed the respective letters of intent for five used ATR 42-300s on August 5, some three weeks before the parties expected to sign a firm contract.
ATR’s sales momentum didn’t pause for the turn of the calendar as the Franco-Italian turboprop maker landed two more contracts for a total of eight turboprops before the ink had dried on last year’s financial reports. Canarian Navigation and Aerial Services, a company operating from Spain’s Canary Islands, announced a $36 million contract for two new ATR 72-500s for delivery this year following an agreement for four made last September.
Life for Fairchild Metro and Merlin owners is looking up. Maintenance, repair and overhaul options for the airplanes have now expanded to include Springfield, Mo.-based Worldwide Aircraft Services, which M7 Aerospace bought last year. According to Jim McClean, president and general manager, the company has a solid history upon which it has built the new service.
Denmark’s Cimber Aviation Group has won a contract with Avions de Transport Regional to perform E Class cargo conversions for the ATR 72. Already an ATR 42 cargo converter, Cimber (Hall 3 Stand F1) will convert its first ATR 72 for Ireland’s Air Contractors. The Irish air freight company has added seven ATRs to its now nine-strong fleet over the past year.
Avions de Transport Regional yesterday landed the first pair of three orders it plans to announce this week at the show, when Finnish regional airline Finncomm signed for eight 48-seat ATR 42-500s and New Caledonia’s Air Caledonie inked a deal for a still undefined mix of three ATR 42-500s and ATR 72-500s.
Corsica’s CCM Airlines yesterday placed an order for six new ATR 72-500 regional twin turboprops to replace its aging fleet of ATR 72-200s. The $100 million deal further solidifies a partnership between CCM Airlines and Air France-KLM to operate flights from the French island’s four airports to Marseille, Nice and Lyon.
Here at the Dubai 2005 show today, India’s Kingfisher Airlines is expected to order 20 ATR 72-500s, and to take options on an additional 15 of the 68-seat twin turboprop. The ATR 72s are to be delivered during a three-year period beginning next March and will be used to serve regional routes on the subcontinent.
Six months after beginning operations, Kingfisher Airlines has confirmed it has ordered 20 ATR 72-500 twin turboprops valued at $350 million and taken options on a further 15 worth about $200 million. Deliveries from Avions de Transport Regional are scheduled to begin in March 2006, when they will join eight Airbus A320s and three A319s.
As an aid to combating piracy in this region, Alenia has offered the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) the use of two previously owned ATR 42 MP (maritime patrol) aircraft to be operated by a local company on its behalf. Reporting to the defense minister, the MMEA began operations in November last year under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.