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Force Magazine

Cost Effective Connectivity

Demand for Regional Transport Aircraft remains strong

By Atul Chandra

There remains a very strong potential market for the introduction of additional Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) in India, over the next few years, both for replacement of former fleets and for expansion of regional networks across the country. Some of these aircraft will also be introduced with the support of leasing firms and in the coming years, India is likely to become an attractive market for leasing companies with ATRs in their portfolios.

Jet Airways along with Air India subsidiary Alliance Air operate the newest ATR 72-600s in the country. The latter being the first airline in India to operate the latest version of the 70-seat regional turboprop. Jet Airways operates 15 ATR-72 500s and three ATR 72-600s. As of today, ATR has more than 20 aircraft flying in India. It also has a Bengaluru-based customer support centre.

Cost Effective Connectivity

Bombardier’s Q400 has SpiceJet as its sole sales success in India when it comes to RTAs and the airline operates 15 aircraft in 78 seat configuration. Taking a different approach by operating turbofan powered RTAs is Vijayawada based regional airline Air Costa, which operates 67-seater Embraer E-170s and 112-seater E-190s.

Embraer has made an entry into the Indian market with its Embraer E-series. The aircraft have proven to be comfortable and reliable in service with Air Costa. An additional three more E-190s will now be acquired by the airline over this year. At present the airline operates four aircraft, split equally across two 67-seater E-170s and two 112-seater E-190s.

Reports in the media have also indicated that the smaller E-170s will be replaced by a single type, to reduce the maintenance and training burden caused by two different types. All aircraft belonging to the airline are based out of Vijayawada.

Air India’s fully-owned regional subsidiary, Airline Allied Services Limited under Brand Name ‘Alliance Air’ in December 2014, introduced its first latest generation ATR 72-600 RTA into its fleet. The aircraft, leased from Singapore-based leasing firm Avation, was the first out of five airplanes and Alliance Air is expected to take delivery of all five airplanes by July this year.

The brand new ATR 72-600s are in 70 seat configuration and will bring in the much needed additional capacity for the airline on its regional network across the country. Thanks to their new ‘Armonia cabin’, the ATR 72-600s will also deliver the highest and most modern standards of comfort to passengers. Chairman, Alliance Air, Rohit Nandan welcomed the new aircraft. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “We are pleased to introduce into our fleet an aircraft which has clearly become the new reference among all regional planes. The ATRs have proven for years their reliability and ability to bring our passengers to every destination of our regional network.”

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