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Virgin Blue chooses ATR

written by | February 23, 2011
Virgin Blue's new regional operation will fly ATR 72s.

Virgin Blue has announced it has chosen the ATR 72 as its regional turboprop airliner to be operated under its recently announced strategic alliance with Skywest Airlines.

With 68-seats, the ATRs will replace the Embraer E-170 in Virgin Blue service. According to the airline, the ATR offers less than half the fuel burn and fuel costs per ASK, and will cover an average 150nm sector in the same block time as the E-170. It is believed the choice was between the ATR 72 and Bombardier’s rival Q400.

Virgin Blue Group CEO John Borghetti said the first four ATR 72s would be introduced from the middle of 2011, with a further four to arrive next year. “The ATR is the best aircraft to operate on regional routes throughout Australia,” he said. “It provides the greatest fuel efficiency and passenger comfort for this category of aircraft. The ATR will form the foundation of our regional network plans, with the first six ATRs replacing our current Embraer E-170 fleet and the additional aircraft flying to new regional destinations.”


ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato said ATR was extremely pleased to be selected by Virgin Blue, with the sale marking a first placement of new build ATR aircraft into the Australian market. “The ATR72, with its low operating cost, proven high reliability and superior passenger comfort, is ideally suited for the shorter regional routes in Australia and to fulfill Virgin Blue’s growth in these markets.”

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  • Peter Vincent


    Great to see ATR with the opportunity to show their wares in a market previously dominated by the Dash 8 family. The ATR has some features that will make it ideal in Australian operations, particularly its huge fuel capacity for long thin and ferry flights and prop brake to save the weight and cost of an APU. ATR will need to provide good support in all areas.
    Lets see if they have the stamina of the great Canadian classic?

  • Grumpy


    If VB introduces this to replace their jet services between CNB-SYD and CNB-MEL then they have lost another customer. The reason I and other Canberra flyers left Qantas was the introduction of the DASH 8 on these runs.

  • Gareth


    @Grumpy. Qantas has far more jet flights to both Sydney and Melbourne than VirginBlue. Also, if you stop flying DJ (and you no longer fly Qantas), who will you fly?

  • Paul


    I agree that seeing the new ATR in australia is great the only oher one here are flown by toll i think.

  • Rowan McKeever


    Are these 72-500 or 72-600?

  • maurice


    It would seem that Air Queensland were ahead of their time when they introduced the ATR42 way back in the 1980’s.

  • Adrian Paddington


    Lovely aircraft flew Southampton to Jersy in Uk

    Ideal for Melbourne to Tasmania, Sale, Mildura etc

    How about using them out of Moorabbin Airport because Melbourne Airport is getting harder to get to fom the south eastern suburbs at peak time

  • bz


    Have flown in ATRs in Noumea and NZ recently – no better than the Dash 8, still a turboprop. I agree with Grumpy, will stick with QF on CBR-SY and CBR-ML. Sorry VB, but you have lost my business on those routes too.

  • Glenn


    Better get used to noisy propjets. With the price of fuel going only one way and fuel economy differential so wide, it seems we have no choice. God help us when fuel reserves become exhausted in the next 30 years!!!

  • mattsey


    im disappointed to hear that the ATRs will replace the E170s but glad to hear Virgin Blue are intending on expanding their regional network. I think Virgin should look at doing flights into Burnie Wynyard as it will give REX much needed competition as well as benefiting velocity customers. The ATRs are similar to the Dash 8s and used to see the Toll ones when I was working for them at the base at Bankstown Airport.

  • mattsey


    I wouldnt recommend VB using ATRs where Jetstar flies as I’ll always choose Jetstar on those routes especially if im gonna fly on an A320.

  • Keith


    It is now late June and no announcement from Virgin Australia. My guess is that they will be on routes where the QF competition is a Dash8. SYD-CBR and MEL-MQL (Mildura). The SYD-CBR is the same block time as the E170 and E190. Customer reaction is a different things. MAny CBR passengers moved to DJ in order to get away from non-jet options.

  • Jeff


    E170 was a great aircraft, had some great flights from ROK to SYD, ROK to BRIS . Seems a backward step to introduce turbos to regional routes . Hope they are better than Dash 400s . Sorry Virgin, I will always support you because Q will screw us regional flyers if you go down the tube, but please keep your jets.

  • Doug


    Grumpy 2. Also left Qantas for VB because of Dash 8s on BNE ROK run. Now just a price choice and who has the least bad cold muffin

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