Silver Airways has firmed up a deal to begin flying new ATR turboprops, a move that bolsters the efforts of European aircraft-maker ATR to regain a foothold among U.S. passenger airlines.
Silver’s ATR aircraft, which will be from lessor Nordic Aviation, will include 16 ATR 42-600s and four larger ATR 72-600s.
Silver will become the first U.S. carrier to fly ATR’s 72-600 model, which can seat anywhere from 50 to 72 passengers, depending on how airlines choose to configure seats on the plane.
Neither ATR nor Silver specified how its 72-600s would be configured, but ATR did say Silver’s 42-600 models would come with 46 seats in a 2-2 seating configuration. Silver plans to use its new ATR aircraft to phase out its existing fleet of 21 Saab 340B turboprops that seat 34 passengers.
IN PICTURES: Aircraft-maker shows off ATR 72-600 turboprop at Washington Dulles (story continues below)
ATR, which has previously expressed its desire to regain marketshare among U.S. carriers, celebrated the order.
ATR CEO Christian Scherer said in a statement that the deal “marks ATR’s comeback to the United States,” adding “we welcome Silver Airways to our fleet of operators.”
The U.S. fortunes for ATR had already improved last fall, when cargo operator FedEx inked a deal for freighter versions of the 72-600. Those will be arriving to FedEx in 2020.
ATR’s management has predicted that a loss of short regional flights on U.S. carriers – along with an aging fleet of regional jets – would give it an avenue to win new U.S. customers.
“With the US having lost some 400 regional routes in the last decade we are confident that Silver Airways’ passengers will certainly appreciate the pleasure of flying onboard the ATR -600 instead of the alternative of a very long drive,” Scherer said in a statement, echoing the company’s previous talking points.
Silver currently operates about two dozen turboprops to fly about 100 flights a day in routes connecting cities in Florida and the Bahamas. The airline has frequent-flier partnerships with United and JetBlue.
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