ATR has announced an order of three ATR 42-600S aircraft from PNG Air.
The deal also means that PNG Air will be a launch customer for the STOL version. The ATR 42-600S will be capable of taking-off from and landing on runways that are as short as 800m in length, with 40 passengers on board in standard flight conditions.
Currently operating seven ATR 72-600 aircraft (above), the airline has captured over 40% of domestic market share since introducing its ATR -600 fleet in 2015.
These three new STOL aircraft will replace PNG Air’s current fleet of ageing STOL turboprops. With many current generation 30-seat STOL aircraft coming to the end of their lifecycles, airlines worldwide must replace these aircraft or the communities that they serve risk losing vital connectivity.
With this new version, ATR forecasts to expand the addressable market by 25%, targeting new routes and the 30-seater STOL segment. There is a strong interest from airlines for a new 50-seater product capable of operating in more constrained conditions. Close to 500 airports have a runway comprised between 800-1,000m and could welcome the ATR 42-600S. Nearly a third of these runways are in Asia Pacific.
PNG Air on November 7, 2016 announced a $134 million (US) contract for the firm purchase of five ATR 72-600s. The deal represents the conversion into firm orders of five options from a previous deal.
Formerly known as Airlines PNG, PNG Air signed for a total of six firm ATR 72-600s and 14 options in 2014. They started operating their first ATR 72-600 in November 2015. Today, the airline operates four ATR 72-600s and will receive the fifth aircraft before the end of this year.
The five new ATR 72-600 aircraft plus an additional one on lease will bring the total ATR fleet to 12 when the last aircraft is delivered in 2022.
The airline is currently undergoing a major transformation plan, with an ambitious fleet renewal and rebranding and a new business strategy focused on the domestic market.
Airlines PNG (Port Moresby) is rebranding as PNG Air with the delivery of the first new ATR 72-600. The company is replacing its older de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 Dash 8 fleet with the new ATRs and has taken the opportunity to change its image.
According to the airline’s Chairman Murray Woo, “The Company’s capital was restructured so that the Company is now unambiguously PNG owned and a permanent part of the country’s infrastructure and economy. The decision was made to re-fleet with the ATR 72-600, meaning the airline will be the only carrier in the country servicing all major ports in the domestic market with new, efficient, highly reliable, state of the art aircraft. That will allow the airline for the first time to offer what is clearly the premium product on domestic routes.
We expect to have 3 brand new ATRs operating by February 2016 and 7 by December 2017. After that the plan is to replace all our Dash 8s and become a 100% ATR operator by 2020. The ATR is the only aircraft currently in production that can fly to all major ports in PNG. ATR have invested heavily to make their product by far the most widely chosen regional turboprop aircraft around the world.”
The company also commented on the decision to rebrand:
“The Board has also taken the decision to rebrand the airline, to reinvigorate its image. Re-fleeting gives the Company this opportunity, as a fleet of new, larger and more comfortable aircraft will improve public perception of the airline’s safety and service. Rebranding will reinforce that the airline is offering something new and genuinely improved. A new appearance will also emphasise improvements in the airline’s service culture.”
Copyright Photo: Eurospot. The pictured ATR 72-212A (ATR 72-600) F-WWEQ (msn 1287) will become P2-ATR on delivery. It displays the new brand.