ATR delivered on Friday 14th December its very last -500 aircraft. It was an ATR 72-500 for Lion Air’s Wings Air, ATR’s spokesman told me in an email yesterday. He also said Wings has taken delivery, on Tuesday 18th December, of its very first ATR 72-600.
He added that Wings now has 20 ATR 72-500s and aims to have a total of 60 ATR 72s once it takes delivery of all 40 ATR 72-600s that it ordered.
Wings is clearly the largest turboprop operator in Indonesia. Besides having 20 ATR 72-500s and one ATR 72-600, Aviation Week’s fleet database shows that it still has two Bombardier Dash 8-300s in operation. This brings Wings’ turboprop fleet to a grand total of 23 aircraft.
Lion’s president director Rusdi Kirana told me last week, at an ATR event in Singapore, that Wings will be taking delivery in 2013 of one ATR 72-600 each month. That means Wings may have a fleet of 35 turboprops next year.
Garuda Indonesia’s low-cost carrier Citilink is poised to order its first fleet of turboprops with first deliveries slated for end of Q3 or early Q4 in 2013. Assuming Citilink can secure the desired delivery slots, the maximum number of purchased turboprops Citilink can hope to receive next year is four. It is often said that you need to have a fleet of ten aircraft, of anyone type, to achieve ‘economies of scale’. I think it is going to be tough for Citilink to match Wings on turboprop routes, because Wings – it seems – has a two years head start. With hindsight, Citilink or Garuda should have ordered new turboprops earlier, rather than leaving the market to Wings.
Rusdi gains an enormous competitive advantage from having turboprops because these 72-seat aircraft operate on smaller routes that feed into his main hubs. Thus providing a critical mass of passengers that supports his high frequency Boeing 737-900ER flights on Indonesia’s trunk routes.