The first ATR 72-500 ever delivered to a Russian airline now operates with UTair, the Siberian aviation company that recently placed an order for 20 of the type for its regional airline based in Khanty Mansiysk. Officially closed in late April and valued at $426 million at list prices, the contract calls for delivery of the new 70-seat turboprops through the end of next year.
Russia’s UTair placed a firm purchase order last month covering 20 new ATR 72-500s. Valued at $426 million, the deal brings to 37 the number of ATR turboprops UTair either operates now or plans to accept, potentially making it the largest ATR operator in Europe. ATR said it planned to deliver the first airplane during last month’s third full week, and complete deliveries by the end of next year.
ATR senior vice president commercial John Moore has seen his share of ups and downs in this business, but never since he joined the company a decade ago had he experienced a year like last year, when ATR logged firm orders for 90 airplanes and reported a 15-percent increase in revenues, to $542 million. Last year’s haul equaled 1998 sales, and order figures ranked second only to ATR’s all-time record of 107 aircraft in 1989.
The governments of Russia and Ukraine have so far managed to prevent Western manufacturers from penetrating their countries’ markets for regional aircraft in the hope that local producers could develop competitive products. But officials have warned that prohibitive import taxes will not hold forever, particularly as Russia pushes ever harder for accession into the World Trade Organization.
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.
Russia’s UTair Airlines plans to begin offshore services in India by year-end, as part of a contract with Gazprom subsidiary Zarubezhneftegaz. A spokesman for the airline said that over-water flights would be a new departure for the company. “The contract is part of a program to develop our business outside Russia.”