Privately owned Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines has confirmed an order for 20 ATR 72-500 turboprops and 30 additional Airbus A320-family aircraft.

“We evaluated several scenarios and aircraft types; in the end it came down to EADS. They put in a very compelling argument for A320 and ATR [and] we had a combined offer from EADS group,” says Kingfisher chief operating officer Nigel Harwood.

EADS owns Airbus and is one of two partners that own ATR. The orders were confirmed at the Dubai Air Show.

Harwood also says the carrier chose the ATR 72 over the Bombardier Dash 8 because ATR offered “the best in-country support” and an analysis of the economic efficiencies showed the ATR 72 was better in terms of operating costs and fuel burn.

ATR says Kingfisher’s 20 ATR 72-500s will be delivered between March 2006 and August 2008 and it values the deal at $350 million. Kingfisher also has taken options for 15 additional ATR 72-500s.

Kingfisher is now working with ATR on plans to install in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems into the ATR 72s, says Harwood, who adds that Kingfisher is the launch customer for ATR’s IFE product.

He says having IFE units on the ATRs is in keeping with the airline’s service offering on its A320s, which have IFE units from Thales and “have proved to be a huge hit since the launch in May 2005”.

Kingfisher currently has seven A320s in service and another seven on order. It also has three A319s on order for delivery in December and January.

Today Kingfisher also is placing an additional order for 30 A320-family aircraft for delivery over four years starting in January 2008. Six will be delivered in 2008 followed by nine in 2009, nine in 2010 and six in 2011, says Harwood.

He says Kingfisher ordered more A320-family aircraft to support its rapid expansion and to help it achieve the goal set by its chairman, Vijay Mallya, for the airline to be India’s largest private carrier by 2010.

Harwood adds the ATR 72 order is also for expansion and will “allow the airline to develop its feeder network linking smaller cities to the main metros”.

Source: Flight International