ATR confident of orders in next phase of US regional refleeting

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ATR is confident that it can win some orders in the next phase of the regional industry refleeting in the USA, say executives.

The airframer did not win any of the orders for 76-seat regional jets that American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and their regional affiliates have placed since December. Those orders have been split about one-third for the Bombardier CRJ900 and two-thirds for the Embraer 175.

"We're happy that this order intake has occurred," says Mark Neely, vice-president of marketing and sales at ATR, at the Regional Airline Association (RAA) annual conference in Montreal today. He says that the mainline carriers needed to order the large regional jets in order to fill the gap in their fleets that was created by scope requirements.

US passenger operators include two ATR 42-500s at Cape Air, two ATR 72-200s at Island Air and one ATR 42-500 at Hawaiian Airlines' regional subsidiary Ohana, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.

"We're ready for the next step that we see as the rationalisation of the marketplace," says Neely, noting that this step would include the replacement of ageing 50-seaters and 70-seaters that is not covered by the current order book.

He says that he hoped that ATR would secure some orders in the USA by 2014 but notes that it will probably "still be a little bit of time".

Neely declines to comment on how many aircraft will be needed in the next phase of regional refleeting.

ATR estimates that US airlines could save as much as $13 million in annual fuel expenses by replacing 50-seat regional jets with turboprops on short routes, for example Newark to Pittsburgh (277.2nm) or Newark to Rochester (213.8nm), according to a presentation at RAA. 

There is no update to the status of the new 90-seat turboprop that ATR is considering, says Neely.

ATR has presented the proposed large turboprop to shareholders.