Brazil’s Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras signed a contract on June 21, 2011 at the Paris Airshow for the purchase of 10 additional ATR 72-600 aircraft, valued at some $227 million.
The deal represents the conversion into firm orders of 10 of the 20 options inked in the contract that Azul and European turboprop manufacturer ATR announced at the Farnborough International Airshow 2010.
The option-conversion brings to 30 the fleet of ATR 72-600s that will be operated by the carrier. If Azul exercises its 10 remaining options, the number would grow to 40.
“We are pleased to announce the purchase of 10 new aircraft. This reinforces our confidence in the product and our partnership with ATR,” says David Neeleman, founder and chairman of the board of Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras.
ATR says that, like its other ATR 72-600s, Azul’s additional aircraft will also be equipped with the type’s new avionics suite, featuring a new-generation glass cockpit; and a redesigned cabin interior. They will also feature the enhanced engine performance and payload that new model offers compared with earlier versions of the ATR 72.
Azul Linhas Aéreas will use its 10 additional ATR 72-600s to further develop its large regional network.
According to ATR, there are currently some 50 ATR turboprops in operation in Brazil , and some 120 in Latin America as a whole. Airlines based within the continent account for around 20 per cent of ATR’s current order backlog.
“The success of Azul Linhas Aereas is also contributing to consolidate our strong presence in Brazil and in the whole region,” remarks Filippo Bagnato, chief executive officer of ATR. “ATRs are becoming real popular aircraft in Brazil, one of the most dynamic markets around the world. We are convinced there is a potential to double, in the short term, the total ATR aircraft fleet operating in the country.”
Azul started operations in December 2008, first connecting its home base in the Brazilian city of Campinas (near Sao Paulo) with Porto Alegre and Salvador, with daily nonstop flights.
The fast-growing airline (which also operates 30 Embraer E-Jets) now connects many of the largest cities in Brazil, including Campinas, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Maringá, Navegantes, Florianópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Campo Grande, Vitória, Salvador, Recife, Maceió, Fortaleza, Natal, Manaus, Goiânia, Porto Seguro, São Paulo, Cuiabá and (from August) Brasília.
Azul also offers bus services to other key points, taking the number of cities it serves to 39. Its fleet of commercial aircraft is the youngest in the country and today comprises 10 Embraer 190s, 20 Embraer 195s and seven ATR 72-500s.