February 14, 2014 00:00
Seeks larger role in Asian aviation market
ATR, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial turboprop aircraft, will set up a training centre in Bangkok in December, as it aims at playing a rising role in the fast-growing aviation market in Southeast Asia.
The France-based firm declined to reveal the location of the centre or other details, but said it would be its sixth training facility worldwide, after Bogota, Paris, Toulouse, Johannesburg and Singapore. It will train pilots and maintenance technicians working on ATR aircraft at a time when demand for them is on the rise in this region.
Currently, the 24-hour centre in Singapore can train more than 500 ATR pilots and technicians per year, mainly from this region.
Filippo Bagnato, ATR’s chief executive officer, said Bangkok was chosen as its new training base to reflect the dynamism of the regional market. Asean and parts of Latin America are the fastest-growing markets for the company, with Southeast Asia possibly remaining the world’s fastest-growing market for the next five years.
This region is therefore a strategic location for the aviation industry. Countries here have witnessed economic prosperity and more and more people can afford to travel by air. In terms of infrastructure, airports have been improved, enhancing regional network connectivity.
At present, the newest ATR-600s are the preferred aircraft for the development of new regional networks in fast-growing economies.
In the Asia-Pacific region, ATR has an 85-per-cent share of the regional-aircraft backlog with 105 planes in the 50-90-seat category, while in Asean alone the backlog is 62, or a 97-per-cent share in the category. It forecasts that the ATR fleet in Asean by 2016 will be four times what it was in 2005.
ATR has dominated sales of 50-90-seat regional aircraft both in Asia-Pacific and Asean from 2005 to 2013, with 322 aircraft (65 per cent) and 161 aircraft (98 per cent) respectively.
ATR’s key buyers in Asean include Lion Air, Malaysia Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia. Lion Air, based in Jakarta, recently placed a big order for 60 aircraft. Delivery will run until next year.
Worldwide, the number of ATR deliveries is expected to be 90 in 2015, up from 80 this year and 74 last year. Last year, the ATR backlog was 221, valued at US$5.3 billion (Bt170 billion). Asia-Pacific was the biggest contributor with 39 per cent.
Deal at Singapore Airshow
On Wednesday at the Singapore Airshow, Bangkok Airways signed a contract with ATR on the firm sale of six ATR 72-600 aircraft and two options, valued at almost $200 million.
Currently, Bangkok Airways has eight ATRs in its fleet. This latest purchase will be to replace ageing planes and also to serve new routes. The first will be delivered this year.
Bagnato said the market for small regional airliners would continue growing significantly in the future, and he expected 3,000 new aircraft to be added to the sky worldwide by 2020. These planes have become more popular because of high fuel costs, which make up more than 35 per cent of the total operational expenses.
Currently, the company produces two sizes of turboprop aircraft, the 50-seater ATR 42 and 70-seater ATR 72. Last year, its total turnover was $1.63 billion. The Asia-Pacific region was the biggest sales contributor with 30 per cent.