ATR has sealed a deal for five new 70-seat ATR72-500 turboprops with privately owned Indian scheduled airline Jet Airways. The airline says the aircraft will "form the nucleus of a modern regional aircraft fleet".

The Jet Airways aircraft have been acquired under an operating lease through Aircraft International Renting, whose major shareholders are TAT and Credit Agricole Indosuez. They will be used to extend the domestic network currently operated by Jet Airways with its fleet of 25 Boeing 737-400/500/800s.

ATRis still negotiating its licence manufacture of turboprops by Hindustan Aeronautics, hoping for a market for at least 100 aircraft over the next 10 years.

The manufacturer has suffered major market setbacks in the USA and Europe with the move to regional jets and is looking hard at ways of maintaining adequate sales, although a further order for up to 14 aircraft is expected to be signed with a European airline at the show.

"It is up to us to defend our programmes," says ATR director-general Antoine Bouvier, "and to obtain production of 30-35 aircraft per year at the kind of profits that our shareholders expect."

ATR is understood to be starting a cost-cutting programme, with about 60 of its 500-strong workforce returning to work for parent companies Aerospatiale Matra and Alenia.

Source: Flight International