FARNBOROUGH -- Air Lease Corporation (ACL) chairman and CEO Steven Udvar-Házy has added spice to the divergence in opinion among ATR’s shareholders over the timing and maturity of launching a higher-capacity ATR, and said he believes there is a “market for a slightly larger turboprop.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the signing ceremony for an order for seven ATR72-600s, Udvar-Házy told reporters the lessor had discussions with several airlines on a 90-seat turboprop in the past 18 to 20 months and concluded that “there is a nice market for it certainly given the continuing high oil prices.”

ACL supports the initiative of ATR’s new CEO, Patrick de Castelbajac, to explore the possibility of increasing the seat density to up to 80 seats. “This would represent an increase in capacity of about 11-12% and consequently reduce the seat mile cost and further widen the opportunities for placing the aircraft with airlines,” he said.
Udvar-Házy described the ATR72-600 as the “most efficient and economical” turboprop in the 70-seat segment, with strong demand in Latin America, Southeast Asia and “even in Europe, where a lot of older ATRs and Bombardier Dash 8s need to be replaced.”

ACL signed an agreement for seven ATR72-600s on Tuesday, lifting its commitment to the aircraft to 28.

The lessor has topped up its portfolio of ATRs in four consecutive years since the manufacturer launched the -600 series.