Royal Air Maroc to take six ATR 72-600s for new regional airline

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Royal Air Maroc is planning to announce an order for six ATR 72-600s later today which will be used to launch its new domestic operation, tentatively dubbed Atlas Inter.

Last October Royal Air Maroc president Driss Benhina told ATI that he was planning to create a new domestic subsidiary, called Atlas Inter, in 2009. At the time he said that the new carrier would be a "low-cost regional operator".

Adding fresh details, a Royal Air Maroc spokeswoman says the domestic airline subsidiary, which is likely to be Casablanca-based, will begin turboprop operations in July.

She adds: "The new subsidiary will be dedicated to performing domestic operations in Morocco. It will not fly international routes."

The spokeswoman says the fleet will initially comprise six aircraft, but will later grow to eight, adding that the type is due to be disclosed today.

An ATI source says Royal Air Maroc is planning to sign a firm order for six ATR 72-600s, plus two options, later today.

The -600 is a new ATR variant, with upgraded avionics, which will roll off the production line in 2011.

ATR revealed in January that it had backlogged orders for 39 -600s from operators including Kingfisher Airlines, Air Tahiti and Air Caraibes.