ATR predicts 2007 a bumper year for its turboprops, as backlog grows to 124 aircraft from six and orderbook swells

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Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR is beginning 2007 confident of continuing strong growth in orders and turnover, as high fuel prices and environmental concerns increasingly push airlines towards choosing fuel efficient aircraft.

Speaking at the company’s annual press conference in Paris, chief executive Filippo Bagnato describes 2006 as “the year of confirmation of success in the market for ATR” while 2005 was “the year of the surprise”, when its order backlog surged from six to 90.

That figure now stands at 124, with 63 new orders and 25 options won in 2006, and Bagnato is confident of continuing growth, thanks to forecasts of demand for more than 1000 new turboprop aircraft in total in the next 10 years.

The company delivered 24 aircraft in 2006 and expects that to almost double to 44 in 2007 and exceed 80 in 2008. Bagnato says ATR’s market share of around 60% is likely to remain stable in 2007. Turnover has surged 30% to $700 million for 2006, compared with $542 million in 2005.

Bagnato expects the company to hit a turnover of $1 billion in 2007, and emphasises that profitability is healthy too, with a return on sales figure of around 11% at the end of 2006.

ATR is targeting emerging markets for growth – it is setting up new facilities in Brazil, where it has just signed a $125 million deal for seven new ATR 72-500 aircraft with Brazil's TRIP Linhas Aéreas, and India - and has won orders for an unprecedented 12 new aircraft from African carriers in the last year.

But Bagnato also predicts a resurgence in the US market, which accounts for just 5% of its ATR-500 series order backlog, although between 130 and 140 older ATR aircraft are in operation there. “Two years ago US airlines were not even accepting discussions,” Bagnato says. Today the situation is different – they are recovering. So we are restarting discussions with American airlines. I think that in 2007 we will see a recovery in the turboprop market in the USA.”