ATR foresees 20-year demand for just over 3,000 new turboprops, mainly from operators in emerging economies.

In its newly issued 2018-2037 market forecast, the European manufacturer predicts that the number of in-service 30-90-seat turboprops will grow to 4,060, from 2,260 today.

Some 1,220 within the current fleet will need replacement, while a further 1,800 will be required for growth, says the airframer, which is jointly owned by Airbus and Leonardo.

The vast majority of demand, nearly 80%, will be for aircraft with 60-80 seats – a segment addressed by the ATR 72 – while the balance represents a "big opportunity" for the ATR 42, vice-president of marketing Zuzana Hrnkova said at a briefing in London on 29 June.

Hrnkova sees potential demand for 630 aircraft with 40-60 seats, driven both by fleet replacement and by operators of legacy 30-seaters that upgauge to larger equipment. The ATR 42 is the only Western-built 50-seat turboprop still in production.

Asia-Pacific is the region with the greatest predicted demand, for 740 aircraft. However, that excludes China, where ATR foresees a requirement for an additional 300 aircraft, and South Asian countries, which will take 260.

In Latin America, ATR predicts demand for 420 aircraft. Africa and the Middle East, North America, and Western Europe each account for 350 deliveries, the forecast suggests, while a further 250 aircraft will be required in Central Europe and the CIS region.

In the 2010-2017 period, ATR took a 75% share of the market for Western-built turboprops against its sole rival, the Bombardier Q400; Hrnkova says the European manufacturer intends to maintain that dominance in the future.

She says a key driver of turboprop demand is an ability to establish new routes in areas that are not served, or are underserved, by air transport.

Some 58% of existing regional aviation routes – which ATR defines as being shorter than 900nm (1,670km) and being served with up to 450 seats a day – have been created since 2002, says Hrnkova, noting that the rate at which new routes have been opened has increased since 2012.

There is "a lot of opportunity" for the turboprops as they represent "the most suitable connectivity tool" for remote regions, she argues.

ATR predicts that "around 30%" of regional air traffic in 2037 will be generated by routes that do not exist today.

Meanwhile, air traffic in ATR's seat segment will grow 4.5% per annum, the manufacturer expects.