Australia's Skywest Airlines will introduce five more ATR 72-600 aircraft into its fleet, to be operated on a range of routes on behalf of major carrier Virgin Australia. These five aircraft take to 13 the number of firm orders of ATR 72 aircraft placed by the Singapore-based leasing company Avation PLC in 2011 for Skywest Airlines: four ATR 72-500s, which are already operating on Virgin Australia's regional network, and nine new generation ATR 72-600s, the first of which Skywest will receive next year. This new contract for five ATR 72-600s also includes options for eight additional aircraft. The list price of the agreement, including options, is over US$ 295 million.
Like the ATR 72-500s now operated for Virgin Australia by Skywest Airlines, all of the ATR 72-600 aircraft will fly in Virgin's new white and red colour scheme.
The latest five aircraft are scheduled to be delivered from early 2013 through early 2014.
"We are delighted to have firmed up five additional aircraft and secured price protection on an additional eight aircraft over the next few years. This new agreement provides a potential delivery stream of aircraft for the next four years. Avation PLC has entered discussions with respect to financing the acquisition costs of these aircraft" says Avation PLC Chairman, Jeff Chatfield.
The Chief Executive Officer of ATR, Filippo Bagnato, welcomed the increased order by Skywest, for its operations on behalf of Virgin Australia, so soon after the type was introduced into the Australian market. "The first four ATR 72-500s are now operating successfully on Virgin routes in eastern Australia, and are fast gaining popularity with both the airline and its passengers," said Mr Bagnato.
"It is a great endorsement of the ATR 72 that after just one month of operating in Australia, Skywest and Virgin have decided to add more aircraft" he said. "These aircraft are the right size for the routes they fly, and offer the best fuel economy of any comparable aircraft in the 70-seat range, making them ideal for Virgin".
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