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ATR 72-600 Series (photo: ATR)

Asia is key market for small aircraft

Both ATR and Bombardier explain why Asia Pacific is a major region for future demand for smaller planes.

Asia Pacific is becoming a key source of demand for small aircraft, with strong intra-regional travel patterns alongside the development of smaller, emerging tourist destinations.

“Asia is our biggest market and it’s in this region where we have the biggest growth,” Jean-Daniel Kosowski, sales director of the turboprop manufacturer ATR, tells TTG Asia on the sidelines of the recent Assembly of the Presidents of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines in Jeju, South Korea.

Asia Pacific comprises “a bit over a third” of ATR’s total market, he adds, its biggest client being Indonesia’s Lion Air with 100 ATR aircraft, followed by airlines in Malaysia, Myanmar and New Zealand.

The ATR 72-600 has up to 78 seats and has limited flying time – ideal for island countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, home to developing destinations with small runways.

Bombardier also sees Asia Pacific as a fast-growing region, according to its sales director for North Asia, Marcel Grauer.

It has forecasted that the region, excluding China, will take delivery of 2,050 small aircraft – 16% of the worldwide market – by 2036, including 1,050 planes of 50 to 100 seats and 1,000 planes of 100 to 150 seats.

Grauer sees growing demand and opportunities for Bombardier especially in Japan, Mongolia, South Korea and the Philippines.

Staying small
Kosowski ruled out speculation that ATR has a 100-seat aircraft in development, citing a lack of demand for it at the moment. Instead, it is promoting greater frequency on smaller aircraft as a way of creating capacity.

“We realise that very often there is a correlation between the number of seats in aircraft and the distance it can fly,” he explained.

“For example, you have no 56-seat aircraft that can fly 10 hours, no 400-seat aircraft designed for an hour’s flight. A 78-seat aircraft and a flying time of one hour and 15 minutes is a good combination. If you need to carry 100 pax, most of the time it is better to add a second flight,” he said.

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