Turboprop maker ATR recorded its best commercial year in 2011, posting firm sales of 157 aircraft and options on 79 more.
Claiming to have captured more than 80 per cent of sales for aircraft with 90 seats or less, ATR said the year’s results confirmed “the domination of turboprop aircraft” as a more cost effective alternative to jets on regional routes.
“Our success is based on our ability to answer to the market requirements,” ATR CEO Filippo Bagnato said in a statement. “Airlines are increasingly looking for planes that combine the lowest operating costs, cutting-edge technology, comfort and environmental friendliness.”
The European company, a partnership between Alenia Aermacchi and Airbus parent EADS, reported sales to 18 customers worldwide, including 10 new customers. It said 20 per cent of sales went to aircraft leasing companies.
Skywest Airlines operates a fleet of four 68-seat ATR 72-500 turboprops for Virgin Australia on regional routes based out of Brisbane and Sydney. The carrier plans to add nine more ATR 72-500 and -600 aircraft over the next two years, all leased from Singapore based Aviation PLC.
Air New Zealand announced an order for seven ATR 72-600s with options on five more in October.
ATR says it delivered 54 aircraft in 2011 and ended the year with a backlog of 224 orders valued at US$5 billion. The company plans to ramp up its delivery schedule to targets of 70 aircraft in 2012 and 80 in 2013.