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Aer Arann, operator of Aer Lingus’ regional operations, collected its first new ATR 72-600 plane at a ceremony with ATR, the world’s largest manufacturer of regional aircraft, in Toulouse, France today.
The plane is the first of eight ATR 72-600s ordered by Aer Arann in a contract valued at almost €144 million.
Seven other planes, which will replace the aircraft currently operated by Aer Arann, are scheduled to be delivered over the next 11 months.
The investment in new planes is part of the airline’s ‘new beginning’ strategy, which aims to position Aer Arann among Europe’s top tier of regional airlines.
Aer Arann operates Aer Lingus Regional under a franchise agreement with Aer Lingus which was recently extended until 2022.
The airline, which aims to double passenger numbers to over two million over the next five years, has overseen a 32% rise in Aer Lingus Regional passenger numbers in the past 12 months.
The new aircraft will be branded Aer Lingus Regional and will operate some of the key routes on the Aer Lingus Regional schedule to include services to London Southend, Manchester and Birmingham. New services to Birmingham and Manchester will begin on 1 June and 1 July next respectively.
Aer Arann operates 550 flights per week across 23 routes in Ireland, the UK and France.
Commenting on the deal, Sean Brogan, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Aer Arann, said that the investment in new aircraft with ATR will support the company’s ambitious growth plans.
‘Aer Arann will welcome the arrival of the first of eight new ATR planes this week. This investment is part of a new beginning at the airline which included a suite of measures to grow the company.
‘The arrival of these new planes will enable Aer Arann to further expand our regional offering and to support the addition of new routes and frequencies on existing routes. We already have plans in place to increase frequencies on our Dublin Edinburgh and Dublin Glasgow routes.
‘As part of our summer schedule we added two new routes – Manchester and Birmingham – to our network. The addition of these routes, two of the busiest in the UK and Ireland, is set to increase our passenger numbers further by over 300,000 and bring the airline’s route network to 25. The arrival of our new planes will support this growth.
‘It is also an exciting prospect for our customers as the new planes – ATR 600s – offer the most modern design in terms of cabin comfort for our passengers.’
Speaking in Toulouse today, Filippo Bagnato, Chief Executive Officer, ATR said:
‘ATR is honored to support the growth of Aer Arann and Aer Lingus Regional. We are happy to partner with such prestigious operators. We are also glad to develop the presence of the new ATR -600s in Europe, a market where we expect to get a strong demand for new generation ATR turboprops - due mainly to the increasing operating costs for airlines and to the fact that there are many airline fleets due for renewal soon’.