Virgin Blue Introduces New Aircraft to Boost Regional Strategy23/02/2011
Virgin Blue Group today announced it will introduce up to 18 fuel efficient ATR72 turboprop aircraft as part of the recently announced strategic alliance with Sky West airlines.
Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Borghetti said the first four of the ATR Turboprop 68 seater aircraft would be introduced from the middle of 2011, with a further four to arrive next year.
“The ATR is the best aircraft to operate on regional routes throughout Australia. It provides the greatest fuel efficiency and passenger comfort for this category of aircraft. “The ATR will form the foundation of our regional network plans, with the first six ATRs replacing our current Embraer E170 fleet and the additional aircraft flying to new regional destinations.”
The alliance will see both airlines codeshare on a number of sectors and allow Velocity members to earn and redeem points. ATR Chief Executive Officer Mr. Filippo Bagnato said ATR was extremely pleased to be selected for this important development of the Virgin Blue Australian regional network and to be associated with such prestigious airline partners as Skywest Airlines and Virgin Blue.
“The ATR72, with its low operating cost, proven high reliability and superior passenger comfort, is ideally suited for the shorter regional routes in Australia and to fulfill Virgin Blue's growth in these markets,” Mr Bagnato said.
The ATR72 aircraft produces between 45 and 50 per cent lower CO2 emissions and consumes 40 to 45 percent less fuel on typical regional sectors, when compared to the Embraer E170 jet.
Under the wet lease arrangement, Skywest will provide the technical and cabin crew and source the maintenance provider of the fleet.
ATR72 – superior economics
Capital cost1 (USD million)
Fuel burn2 (kg)
Fuel cost3 per ASK2 (cents)
CO2 emissions2 (tonnes)
Flight time2 (hr)
Note: 1 List or published prices; 2 150 nautical mile flight; 3 $80/brl with no handling charge; 4 Typical cruise, 97% MTOW
Source: ATR data
Headquartered in Toulouse, Southwest France, ATR is the world leader in turboprop and employs more than 900 people at its headquarters and final assembly facilities. ATR is a joint venture between two major European aeronautical companies, EADS and Alenia Aeronautica. Total company revenues for 2010 were around US$1.35 billion.
About Virgin Blue Group
Virgin Blue Group of Airlines includes Virgin Blue, long-haul international carrier VAustralia and short-haul international airlines Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue – the joint venture with the Samoan Government. It also includes long-haul international carrier V Australia. The four airlines operate a fleet of 88 Boeing 737-NGs, Boeing 777 and Embraer E-Jet aircraft to 31 Australian and 17 international destinations.