European turboprop manufacturer ATR has handed over the fourth and final VIP ATR 72-500 to the Royal Thai Air Force as interest in the executive version of its twin-turboprop regional airliner family continues to grow.

The Thai aircraft - used exclusively by the country's royal family, government and military officials - have helped to spur interest in the ATR 42 and 72, particularly from other customers in Asia, says ATR. "We have opened discussions with a number of potential clients in Asia and across the world who are looking for aircraft with low operating costs and large cabins," says the EADS and Alenia joint venture.

ATR has sold 12 VIP-configured ATRs since the 1990s - five 42s and seven 72s - but only recently launched a marketing effort to promote the types in the business aviation arena. "Although the airline market is our main focus, we are well positioned to provide a more cost-efficient alternative to other business aircraft available on the market and there is certainly demand for these aircraft in this economic climate," says the company.

Royal Thai Air Force ATR 72 VIP
 © Royal Thai Air Force

Given that most VIP flights last no more than 2h, says ATR, "both the 50-seat 42 and 68-seat 72 aircraft have large cabins that can be adapted for a number of roles, such as group or executive transport".

The aircraft can also be re-sold into the airliner or cargo markets, "which boosts their appeal", ATR adds.

Source: Flight International