Expanding Footprint: ATR Expects India to Become its Largest Market in Next Five Years

Civil Aviation

New Delhi: Showing optimism in the Indian market and India’s emergence as its biggest market in next five years, Franco-Italian regional aircraft major ATR is looking ahead to increase its footprint in terms of sourcing of components, pilot training and others.

 

According to the turboprop-maker ATR projections, global supply chain challenges that have weighed down Indian airlines the past few years are unlikely to go away anytime soon. The company expects its aircraft deliveries to return to pre-covid levels only by 2027-2028, with a gradual easing of supply chain constraints in the aviation ecosystem. In 2023, ATR delivered 36 aircraft, down from 68 in the pre-covid year of 2019.

 

“This year, (we are) aiming at 40-ish,” Jean Pierre, ATR’s head of commercial for Asia-Pacific said to an Indian media outlet. Adding, “A supply chain is not something that you switch on, switch off. It’s about being mindful and getting that back in line responsibly for our suppliers… it’s a fine balance.”

 

Jean-Pierre Clercin, ATR’s head of commercial for Asia Pacific, said, “India currently has 65 ATRs – 45 with IndiGo and 20 with Alliance Air. IndiGo is to get five more. Startup carrier Fly91 (which is being launched by aviation industry veteran Manoj Chacko) will get its first leased ATR anytime now and the second in a week or so.”

 

“Indonesia has about 100 ATRs and is currently our biggest market. India and Brazil come after that. But the way Indian economy and air travel in the country is booming, within five years India will have the maximum ATRs given the government’s focus on regional air transport through ude desh ka aam naagrik (UDAN) scheme,” Jean-Pierre Clercin said.

 

In the next decade, India will need 50-150 such planes, according to ATR estimate. “That is the official estimation. But given the way India is developing, the actual number could be even higher. Much higher,” Clercin remarked.

 

ATR manufactures turboprop-powered regional jets, including the ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft that can seat 48-78 passengers. In India, ATR occupies nearly a 70% share of this market where about 100 regional aircraft are registered with scheduled Indian airlines.

 

Founded in 1981 as a joint venture between Aérospatiale of France (now Airbus) and Aeritalia (now Leonardo) of Italy, ATR has been present in India for about two decades. ATR currently has spare parts warehouses in Paris, Auckland, Miami and Singapore, and customer service centres in Miami, Toulouse, Singapore and Bengaluru.

 

The turboprop major is in talks with several Indian airlines for more orders. “The focus here is on regional and ATR is for that. So we are talking to all the airlines in India,” Jean-Pierre said. “We do already have a presence in India. There are some simulators (for pilot training) operated by third parties in India. The footprint depends a lot on the size of the markets, and India is one of the most promising aviation markets globally. We’ve seen the amazing resilience of the country. As the market is so big, we need to look at all options.”

 

Acknowledging that supply chain disruptions have hurt the aviation sector globally, Jean-Pierre said, “We don’t want to strain the supply chain. We have seen what happens when you do that in some of the programmes. We want to be very careful,” said Pierre. “We want to be somewhere between 60-80 (aircraft per year) in the long run.”