Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR has finalized the sale of three ATR 72-600 aircraft to the Gabon-based Afrijet who will use the aircraft to replace part of its ATR 72-500 fleet. From the second aircraft onwards, these ATR 72-600 would be equipped with the latest generation P&WC engine, the PW127XT-M, which delivers increased efficiency and burns less fuel.

The deal is further proof of the ATR’s effectiveness at growing regional routes and networks, thanks to its cost-effective operations.

Afrijet initially started with pre-owned ATR aircraft and then moved to a leased ATR 72-600 in 2020. This direct acquisition of brand new aircraft will increase the -600 fleet sizes to four ATR 72-600, allowing the opening of new routes and increasing frequency. Regional connectivity has been shown to have a significant impact on local economies, with an increase of 10% in regional flights potentially leading to a six percent growth in regional GDP. The ATR is a proven route opener thanks to its operational efficiency and versatility, burning over 40 percent less fuel and therefore emitting 40 percent less CO2 than a regional jet.

Afrijet CEO, Mark Gaffajoli, said: “To be effective in Africa an aircraft has to be cost-efficient, reliable, and operationally versatile. We need these new ATR aircraft, as creating connectivity in the Gulf of Guinea is vital for the boom in trade and community integration in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa(CEMAC) zone.
”As an operator in Equatorial Africa, home of the second-largest forest in the world, we are proud to be preparing to invest in a device with a low carbon footprint and a controlled and predictable ecological impact.”

Africa key market for ATR

Stefano Bortoli, CEO of ATR, said: “Afrijet continues to trust ATR with its business and we are always proud to see an airline move from a legacy ATR fleet, to introducing the latest-generation aircraft and then ultimately purchasing a new fleet”.

“Being in the position to do this during such challenging times really shows that Afrijet has an excellent strategy and business model that they are delivering very well. It also shows that the ATR is the perfect aircraft with which to deliver regional connectivity in Africa. The continent remains a key market for ATR. Air Senegal’s two ATRs recently began operations and are now providing essential connectivity throughout the country”.

ATR input in Africa

Nigerian budget airline, Green Africa had in April 2021 received its first aircraft, an ATR 72-600, at its base in the city of Lagos. The carrier took three ATRs through an agreement with ACIA Aero Leasing, which is part of Mauritius-based ACIA Aero Capital and has leasing offices in several countries including Ireland and France. The initial turboprop (5N-GAE) was originally delivered to Brazilian carrier Azul in 2012 and subsequently operated by Air Tahiti.

Green Africa has been looking to build a jet fleet, unveiling a preliminary commitment for 50 Airbus A220s last year following an earlier tentative agreement for up to 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8s. It appeared to underpin its A220 ambitions last year with a deal to lease three A220s from the Irish-based leasing firm GTLK Europe, which took delivery of a fleet of six A220-300s in 2019. Green Africa has yet to confirm the status of the A220 agreements.

Air Botswana, the Botswana national flag carrier, had in 2018, taken delivery of its first ATR 72-600.aircraft, delivered in Toulouse, was the first of a contract signed in July for two ATR 72-600s. The second was planned for delivery before the end of that year. The ATR 72-600s helped upgrade Air Botswana’s current fleet of three ATR 42-500s and one ATR 72-500s. The brand-new aircraft was configured with a 70-seat, dual-class cabin and equipped with the latest avionics.

With the two ATR 72-600, the Botswana airline made a clear forward-looking decision to benefit from a fleet with the most modern turboprop equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Advantages of aircraft to African carriers

ATR toured West Africa last December, highlighting the advantages of its 600 aircraft to African airlines, VIPs, and decision-makers in Mali, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

Today around 120 ATRs are operated by 30 airlines in 18 African countries. A great opportunity to upgrade these fleets with the -600 series lies ahead of us and a solid base to further expand our presence across the growing African market. ATR’s Vice-President of Sales for Africa, Dominique underlined the fact that the ATR product family remains the cheapest and easiest solution adaptable to customer needs. Indeed ATR is enjoying full commonality across the two models with capacity ranging from 48 to 78 seats.

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