Thailand's PB Air replaces ERJ-145s with ATR 72s

Thai carrier PB Air indicates it could stay with ATR 72-500 turboprops after the dry lease of its two Bangkok Airways ATR 72-500s expires in October.

Heribert Gaksch, director of marketing and business development PB Air, which operates two aircraft on mainly domestic Thailand routes, says the company's CEO is currently involved in planning for the airline's future fleet.

"If it goes well, yes, we'll probably stick with the ATR 72s," he says. "It will probably be a dry lease."

The airline currently operates ten flights a day from Bangkok to the Thai towns of Lampang, Nan, Nakhon, Phanom, Sakhon Nakhon, Buri Ram, and Roi-Et. It will launch a Bangkok-Mae Sot service on June 5, and hopes to launch flights to the southern town of Chumphon in the coming months.

In February PB Air substituted the two ATR 72-500s for its Brazilian-made Embraer ERJ-145LR jets. The ATR 72-500 has 70 seats, versus 50 for ERJ-145LR. In April, PB Air returned the Embraer aircraft to GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) after seven years of service.

While Gaksch says PB Air was happy with the ERJ-145LRs, he also says the ATR 72-500 has more suitable performance characteristics.

The majority of PB Air's routes are of one hour or less, and the ATR 72-500 is capable of landing on shorter runways, he adds.

Nineteen year old PB Air has also bolstered its marketing efforts.

It plans to participate in more travel exhibitions, has stepped up call centre hours and created sales counters at Krungthai Card branches.

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