Mandarin Airlines is targeting to begin operations of its ATR 72-600 turboprops before the Lunar New Year period in mid-February.
The carrier has already taken delivery of three turboprops, and is conducting proving flights as part of the process of certificating them with Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration. The plan is to use the aircraft largely on services to island destinations such as Magong and Kinmen, and also between some domestic points.
Its inaugural turboprop service will operate on the Kaohsiung-Magong route.
Parent China Airlines Group has also commissioned a 2,850sqm hangar at Taipei's Songshan airport to support the turboprops. The facility can hold up to three tubroprops concurrently and will have the capability to perform heavy maintenance up to C-check for the ATR 72-600. It will also do some work on China Airlines' narrowbody fleet.
The three ATR 72s in Mandarin Airlines' fleet are on lease from Avation, and the carrier has also signed with ATR for another six units. It is scheduled to take two ATR 72s annually over the next three years, with all nine aircraft to be in place by 2020.
With the introduction of the turboprops, Mandarin says its six Embraer 190s will return its focus to international services. It also has two Boeing 737-800s in its fleet.
"The improvement to carrying capacity and dispatching flexibility will expand the profit niche for the China Airlines Group," it adds.