ATR: ready to operate for Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia partner Skywest Airlines takes delivery of its first ATR 72-500

Australian carrier Skywest Airlines last week took delivery of its first ATR 72-500, which is also the very first ATR 72 aircraft in Australia. Skywest Airlines will operate its new ATR fleet on behalf of Virgin Australia, as part of a 10-year agreement signed recently between both airlines to create a regional network for Virgin Australia. Today’s first delivery follows the signature of a contract for 4 ATR 72-500s and 4 ATR 72-600s, plus 5 options, inked earlier this year between ATR and the leasing company Avation PLC. The remaining 3 ATR 72-500s will be delivered this year, while the 4 ATR 72-600s will enter into service in 2012. All of these ATR 72s will wear the new white and red livery of Virgin Australia.

Initially, the new ATR fleet will operate on Australia’s east coast, including new regional routes from Brisbane to Gladstone and Brisbane to Port Macquarie. This regional network will expand progressively in 2011 and 2012 with the addition of new destinations. The fuel-efficient ATR 72s will progressively replace Virgin Australia’s E-170 regional jets while enabling the introduction of new services and additional frequencies on existing routes. The new ATR aircraft are configured with 68 new-generation seats with a 31-inch seat pitch, and fitted with the latest Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines.

Commenting on this first delivery, Jeff Chatfield, Executive Chairman of Avation PLC and Skywest Airlines, said: “We are proud to be contributing to the expansion of Virgin Australia and the growth of regional aviation across the country. 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”.

Filippo Bagnato, Chief Executive Officer of ATR, said: “The introduction and entry into service of the ATR 72 in Australia is an important milestone for ATR. Our new client and partners will benefit from the fuel-efficiency, environmental friendliness and low operating costs of the new ATRs. 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”.

About the ATR 72-500:

  • Passenger capacity: 68 to 74 seats
  • Engines: Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M
  • Maximum takeoff power: 2,750 HP per engine
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 23,000 kg
  • Maximum payload: 7,500 kg
  • Maximum range with full passenger load: 824 nautical miles (1,526 km)
  • Fuel burn (1-hour flight): 2.5 kg/passenger/100 km

About Avation PLC:
Avation PLC is a Singapore based, London Stock Exchange listed (LSE: AVAP) aircraft leasing Company. Through its subsidiaries Avation owns commercial passenger aircraft which are leased to various airlines in Europe, the United States and Australia and this venture arrangement produces significant cash flows to the Company. The bulk of the Company’s balance sheet is comprised of ownership of these aircraft. Avation's strategy involves focus on new generation narrow body commercial aircraft to be leased to a geographically diversified client base of customer airlines.

About Skywest Airlines:
Skywest Airlines has been in operation for nearly 50 years, and currently flies to 14 destinations. Skywest operates flights across regional Western Australia as well as to Darwin, in the Northern Territory and Melbourne, in Australia’s south-east corner. It also flies internationally to Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali. With a strong presence in the corporate charter, ‘Fly-in, Fly-Out’ mining market and scheduled Regular Public Transport flights, Skywest Airlines carries over 800,000 passengers annually, serving business travellers, tourists and regional communities. The fleet consists of Fokker 50 turboprops and Fokker 100 jet aircraft. Recently, Skywest also acquired its first Airbus A320, which is fitted with 162 seats, bringing the total fleet to 18 aircraft.

About the Virgin Australia Group:
The Virgin Australia Group of Airlines includes the domestic airline Virgin Australia, long-haul international carrier V Australia and short-haul international airlines Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue – the latter a joint venture with the Government of the Pacific Island nation of Samoa. These four airlines operate a fleet of 88 Boeing 737-NGs, Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and Embraer E-Jets to 31 Australian and 17 international destinations.

About ATR:
Founded in 1981, ATR has become the world leader in manufacturing 50-74 seat regional turboprop aircraft. Since the start of the program, ATR has sold more than 1,100 aircraft to over 175 airlines based in 94 countries. ATR planes have totaled over 21 million flight hours. ATR is a 50/50 partnership between two major European aeronautics players, Alenia Aeronautica (a Finmeccanica Group company) and EADS. The head office is in Toulouse, France. ATR is ISO 14001-certified, the global benchmark for environmental management and sustainable development.

For additional information, log on to www.atraircraft.com

Source: ATR

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