AviancaTaca orders 15 ATR 72s to replace ageing turboprops

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Latin American airline group AviancaTaca has placed an order for 15 ATR 72-600s, with options for another 15, in a deal valued at almost $700 million.

Deliveries will begin in June 2013, says the Star Alliance carrier. The new aircraft will replace AviancaTaca's ageing fleet of Fokker 50s and ATR 42s.

The airline says it chose the ATR 72 after "an exhaustive evaluation of all the competing alternatives" and found that the aircraft type was the "best overall solution".

AviancaTaca's new ATR 72s will have 72 seats and be operated by Avianca to domestic Colombian destinations such as Barrancabermeja, Florencia, Manizales, Neiva, Pasto, Popayán, Tumaco and Yopal. Taca will operate the aircraft to Guatemala City and Flores in Guatemala, Tegucigalpa, Roatán and San Pedro Sula in Honduras, San Salvador (El Salvador), Managua (Nicaragua), and San José and Liberia in Costa Rica.

"With the introduction of these new 72-seat ATR 72-600s, we re-emphasise our commitment to the connectivity within the regions in Colombia and Central America. The selected aircraft will enable us to increase our capacity in regional routes, further enhance our network and propose the highest standards of comfort to our passengers," says AviancaTaca's chief executive Fabio Villegas.

Avianca operates 10 Fokker 50s, built in the early 1990s, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows. Taca operates eight ATR 42-300s and has another two in storage. Their build dates range from 1985 to 1995.

"We are pleased to renew a longstanding relationship that dates back over 15 years with Taca Regional, and to further increase the presence of the new ATR 72-600s in the whole of Latin America," says Filippo Bagnato, ATR's chief executive. ATR has 150 aircraft operating in Latin America, with another 50 to be delivered in the region.

AviancaTaca has a fleet of more than 150 aircraft serving more than 100 destinations from four hubs in Bogota, San Salvador, Lima and San Jose. Avianca and Taca completed their merger in 2010.