By Adil Ahmad in London
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has received the first of seven ATR 42-500 high speed turboprop from the Franco-Italian manufacturer. It sports a the first of a new city-based livery scheme, to be rolled out across its domestic fleet.
PIA signed an agreement with ATR in November 2005 for the seven, which will replace the airline's current fleet of ageing Fokker F-27s. Three of the turboprops are due for delivery this year, and the remainder in 2007. The first aircraft (AP-BHH) left Toulouse yesterday after an official hand-over ceremony.
The PIA ATR 42 is equipped with a specially-designed cabin with 48 seats including ten premium economy seats in place of business class seats.
This ATR is sporting a brand new livery for PIA, with colours reflecting the "New port city" of Gwadar, which lies on the Gulf of Oman close to the Iranian border. The airline recently launched a programme to paint its aircraft in four provincial liveries and AP-BHH sports the Nature's Orchard scheme of Balochistan.
The contract was signed by the airline's chief executive and chairman and Filippo Bagnato and by the general consuls of France and Italy. The total value of the contract is around $100 million dollars.
PIA says it chose the -500 family due to its good performance when operating from hot and high locations and short runways, of which Pakistan has many in its domestic network. The maximum takeoff weight of PIA's ATR 42-500 is increased to 18,600kg (40,920lb), allowing a payload growth to 5,450kg. The aircraft has a range of more than 2,775km (1,500nm).
|From left to right, Syed Farooq Shah, deputy managing director of PIA and Filippo Bagnato, chief executive of ATR.|
The first batch of Pakistani pilots have been trained by ATR in Toulouse, and 28 more first officers are due to be sent for training this year.