Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pilot shortages, unsold planes weigh on ATR deliveries -sources

Paris: Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR is tackling a slump in deliveries resulting from a combination of industrial delays, unsold aircraft and pilot shortages, industry sources said.

The turboprop maker, owned jointly by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo, has delivered only a handful of aircraft in 2019 but aims to recover in the second half.

Toulouse-based ATR declined to give a figure for mid-year deliveries but said it was confident of achieving its target of matching last year’s total handover of 76 aircraft.

“Our market is a very volatile one and we are used to managing that well,” a spokeswoman said.

ATR dominates the turboprop market, competing against the Bombardier-developed Q400, recently acquired by Canadian manufacturer Viking Air, and China’s upcoming MA700.

With debate about aviation’s environmental impact intensifying, ATR aims to pitch its 72-600 at next week’s Paris Airshow as cleaner than regional jets, with 40 percent less emissions per trip.

While the show is dominated by competition for big jets, ATR says a third of the world’s commercial airports rely solely on turboprops, which help drive regional economic development.

But in India, a top growth market, ATR is struggling to deliver planes as quickly as it had hoped, partly due to problems finding enough pilots for leading customer IndiGo.

ATR agreed in 2017 to sell 50 ATR 72-600 aircraft, worth more than $1.3 billion at list prices, to the budget carrier.

In order to grab one of the turboprop sector’s biggest deals, ATR assumed responsibility for recruiting some pilots and instructors for IndiGo, which like many Indian airlines faces an acute shortage, the sources told Reuters.

“The Indigo deliveries progress on a monthly basis,” the spokeswoman said. “In addition we are working with Indigo to address the pilot shortage and co-operate very closely with them on pilot instructors,” she added.
13/06/19 Tim Hepher/CNBC TV18

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