Russia's UTAir is set to conclude an agreement for 20 ATR 42-500s with the manufacturer, having opted to phase out its older second-hand ATR 42-300s.

Delivery of the first five aircraft will take place in 2010.

"At the same time, we'll begin returning our current Western-built turboprops," says first deputy director Andrei Ilmenski.

UTAir has about a dozen leased -300 models as well as three of the larger ATR 72.

By taking the newer aircraft UTAir will capitalise on Russian's duty-free regime for import of civil aircraft with fewer than 50 seats.

Ilmenski estamates the value of the prospective agreement at $300 million, adding that UTAir intends to seek bank finance for the deal.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news