ATR's chief executive Filippo Bagnato said 21% of the total orders placed for ATR products last year emerged from operating leasing companies.
ATR announced firm orders for 157 aircraft in 2011, beating its 2007 record of 113 units.
Last year operating lessors Air Lease, GECAS and Nordic Aviation Capital placed firm orders for a total 29 aircraft. GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) signed its first contract with ATR at last year's Paris air show, placing a firm order for 15 ATR 72-600s and 15 options.
In Paris, Nordic Aviation Capital announced an order for 10 ATR 72-600s, plus options for 10 additional aircraft. The Danish regional aircraft lessor also firmed a new order for two ATR 72-500s at the ERA General Assembly in September.
US lessor Air Lease, which in 2010 booked an order for 10 ATR 72-600s plus 10 options - converted last year two options into firm orders.
"ATR is the best product to replace regional jets and first generation turboprops and expand from 50-seat operations," commented Bagnato.
Traffic growth and network development fuelled demand last year. According to Bagnato, 56% of last year's orders were placed by existing operators. Another 23% emerged from new ATR operators, while the remaining 21% of orders were placed by leasing companies.
"These [leasing companies' orders] are speculative because operating lessors believe ATR is a good investment," said Bagnato.