African airline Air Botswana today signed a firm order for two ATR 72-600s.
Having operated ATR -500 series aircraft since 1996, the Botswanan national flag carrier has been an ATR operator for more than 20 years and will now upgrade and restructure its fleet with the addition of the latest generation turboprop aircraft. The ATR -600 series is the market leader in the regional aviation segment with a 40% fuel burn advantage against its turboprop competitor. It is a proven route opener, having opened 150 routes in 2017 thanks to its versatility and operational efficiency.
The aircraft will be configured with a 70-seat, dual class cabin, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. They are also equipped with the newest navigation aid tools. The airline currently operates a fleet of three ATR 42-500s and one ATR 72-500. With this deal, the airline will start a progressive replacement of their former turboprop fleet, adding the newest standards of comfort.
ATR estimates that there will be the need for over 3000 turboprops in the next twenty years, with more than 10% of these aircraft destined for Africa & the Middle East and foresees the creation of some 300 new routes.
Agnes Tsholofelo Khunwana, CEO of Air Botswana, said: “ATR is very reliable and has served us very well for over 20 years. The aircraft are very efficient and generally have favourable economics. Acquiring the new generation ATR 72-600 in a dual class configuration would be our most customer-centric development this year which I am confident, would greatly be embraced by our market.”
Christian Scherer, Chief Executive Officer of ATR commented: “Air Botswana’s decision to upgrade their fleet with two ATR 72-600s makes perfect sense in the context of the African market. There are currently around 400 regional passenger aircraft flying in Africa. Many of them will soon need to be replaced to ensure the continuation of regional connectivity. Operators with the ATR-600 series, like Air Botswana, will stand in a class of their own, both economically and in terms of passenger comfort.