Turboprop manufacturer ATR is hoping to boost its business aviation presence by proposing a catalogue of executive interior options, and including the corporate market in its forecasts.
Although ATR's first VIP-configured aircraft entered service in 1992, historically the segment has not been a focal point for the manufacturer. By October it will have 12 corporate-configured aircraft in operation, evenly split between its ATR 42 and 72 types. Its seven customers are Aerogaviota in Cuba; French Polynesia; Lao Airlines; Romanian carrier Tarom; the Gabonese presidential guard; Silkway and the Royal Thai Air Force.
ATR chief executive Stephane Mayer told a media briefing yesterday that the business aviation is an "interesting market segment" for the manufacturer. He said: "We don't have a precise market. We see opportunities based on demand from customers."
But ATR is now looking to hone its corporate aviation strategy. ATR vice-president for marketing Mario Formica says over the last five years there has been 75% growth in the turboprop corporate segment and more than 67% of corporate missions are under 90 minutes in duration, making them well-suited to turboprop operations. "This is really a market where ATRs can operate profitably," he adds.
Formica says ATR is looking to partner with suppliers that provide interiors for manufacturers such as Embraer, Bombardier and Gulfstream. "What we want to do is come up with a standard specification VIP version and propose a catalogue of options where different customers can select their specific equipment," he says.
ATR has a market study under way and it is looking to establish where it will fit in against other corporate players. He adds: "We will also issue a forecast for corporate versions of the ATR. I think that, after the summer, we will have figures on the market and we will have details on the standard corporate version by September or October."
Formica believes that product and geographical diversity is key to ATR's success. "The more you are able to diversify models, the stronger the asset value of your aircraft. This is something that bankers recognise."