India’s IndiGo has placed a conditional order for 50 ATR 72-600s, signaling the low-fare carrier’s intention to launch regional operations by the end of the year and take delivery of as many as 20 of the Franco-Italian turboprops by the end of 2018. Under the so-called term sheet signed between IndiGo and ATR, the airline can reduce the number of airplanes delivered “under certain conditions.” The value of the commitment, if completely fulfilled, would total $1.3 billion based on list prices and rank as one of ATR’s largest ever orders.
IndiGo’s plan coincides with the launch of the Indian government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme, also known as UDAN, established to boost economic development, employment and tourism by better connecting small and remote cities.
India’s airlines carried nearly 100 million passengers domestically last year, and official projections call for continued annual growth rate of more than 20 percent, making it the world’s third largest market by 2020. Under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, India expects to see 100 new airports built within the next two to three years, while the government grants financial support and other incentives to make air travel affordable.
“In support of our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s UDAN vision, we are embarking on a journey to build a nationwide regional network and connect cities that have not benefitted from the growth in Indian aviation,” said IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh. “The ATRs low operating costs will help us build a large regional air travel network with reasonable fares...The ATRs' outstanding operational versatility, along with their capabilities to land in remote airports with limited infrastructure will help us manage our operations efficiently.”
The addition of the ATRs would mark IndiGo’s first deviation from a single-type Airbus operation since its inception in 2006. Now flying 133 Airbus A320/A320neos, it controls nearly 40 percent of the Indian market, making it that countries largest carrier by passenger count.