ITALY-based aviation manufacturer ATR is intent on expanding its business in Asia Pacific, seeking a big slice of the forecast demand for up to 1,000 turboprop aircraft in the region over the next 20 years, the company's sales director Laurent Janitza said yesterday.
Janitza said that demand for aviation services in Asia-Pacific would see strong growth, benefiting from increased tourism flows.
He pointed to Thailand’s special position, providing travel linkages to neighbouring countries in the Asean region.
“There have been a number of new routes building on linkages between Thailand and neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said in a group interview.
“Thailand serves as a hub for Asean countries. As a result, we expect our business will expand in Thailand from now until 2037. However, we cannot estimate our market value in Thailand at this time.”
Janitza said he is encouraged by the government’s policy to develop the U-Tapao International Airport under the ambitious vision for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Recently, the government also announced plans to develop infrastructure and a new international airport in the South. The projects for the Eastern and Southern regions form part of a drive to boost demand for aviation in Thailand and ensure strong growth in this sector, Janitza said.
The company has taken an order to deliver four aircraft to Thai operator Bangkok Airways. This comes under orders it has received for 130 aircraft to be delivered to customers in Asia Pacific from now until 2022, Janitza said.
At present the company has 20 aircraft operating in Thailand.
Janitza added that its parent company Airbus has been expanding its investment to develop a maintenance centre at U-Tapao airport under a collaboration with Thai Airways International Plc. The project in Rayong forms a part of the group’s efforts to support its business in Thailand.
A major stake is held in ATR by Airbus and Leonardo. The company has a production plant in Toulouse in southern France. ATR bills itself as the world leader in the market for regional aircraft of up to 90 seats.
Brisk sales pace
ATR has sold nearly 1,700 aircraft and has more than 200 operators in more than 100 countries.
ATR says its turboprops provide airlines with the best opportunities for operating short-haul routes at a low operating cost. Airlines servicing smaller markets need more fuel efficient-aircraft to continue operating regular flights between regional airports and to main airports and hubs.
For 2017, the company reported turnover of US$1.8 billion.
The company expects to increase its market share in turboprops in Asia-Pacific, especially in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. This is due to strong demand, boosted by moves in most Asia- Pacific countries to sign agreements for new air routes that will drive the demand for turboprops.
Janitza said the growth in demand for Asia-Pacific would be stronger than that forecast for Europe and the United States.
Indonesia is ATR’s largest market, with 99 aircraft in operation. It is followed by the Philippines with 22 aircraft.
The company has opened a facility housing a customer service centre, a spare parts warehouse and a training centre in Singapore that will support its business in Asia, Janitza said.