Wings Air, a unit of Indonesia's Lion Air, has received the first of three ATR 72-500s on order and is using the turboprops to replace Boeing MD-80s on domestic regional routes.

ATR says Lion Air has held a ceremony in Manado, a city in eastern Indonesia, to mark the introduction of Wings Air's first three ATR 72-500s.

The Indonesian carrier has another 12 ATR 72-500s on order and these will be delivered in 2010 and 2011, says Lion president director Rusdi Kirana.

He says Wings Air will use the ATRs to "develop feeder routes to the main hubs and expand its network in remote areas of the country."

Kirana also says Wings Air will be phasing out its remaining MD-80s and the new turboprops will allow Wings Air to optimise its operating costs and offer competitive air fares.

ATR CEO Stephane Mayer says the introduction of ATR 72-500s into Indonesia "is an important step in the consolidation of our strong presence in Asia."

"The ATRs are optimally suited for regional operations in the country" because the aircraft can operate on short runways, has low fuel consumption and are easy to maintain.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news