Skywest has taken delivery of the first ATR 72 it will operate for Virgin Australia, with the aircraft handed over at ATR’s Toulouse facility on August 11.
Leasing company (and Skywest associate company) Avation has four ATR 72-500s and four ATR 72-600s on order which Skywest will operate for Virgin Australia, with the remaining ATR 72-500s to be handed over this year, and the ATR 72-600s due for delivery in 2012, while options are held on a further five -600s.
“The introduction and entry into service of the ATR 72 in Australia is an important milestone for ATR,” Filippo Bagnato, chief executive officer of ATR, said. “While contributing to the further expansion of regional air connectivity in Australia, these new ATRs will also play a key role in feeding traffic to Virgin Australia’s domestic and international operations, and will offer the highest standard of comfort for passengers”.
The 31in pitch, 68-seat all economy ATRs will initially enter service on flights between Sydney and Canberra, Brisbane and Gladstone, and from Brisbane and Sydney to Port Macquarie.
“We are proud to be contributing to the expansion of Virgin Australia and the growth of regional aviation across the country,” said Jeff Chatfield, executive chairman of both Avation and Skywest Airlines. “ATRs have proven themselves in tough environments featuring unrivalled performances, leading edge comfort and an unmatched reliability. These are the right aircraft for our passengers and our airline, and a great asset for our leasing company, Avation PLC”.