Thanks to these ATR 42s with enhanced capabilities, the Polynesian airline will be able to take off and land on runways that are only 800 metres long.
Air Tahiti and ATR have confirmed the order for two ATR 42-600S, the new version of the ATR 42 offering enhanced take-off and landing capabilities on short runways. The world number one in the regional aviation market has started taking orders for this new aircraft, to be launched officially once approved by the company's Board of Directors—a decision expected to be announced before the end of the year.
The ATR 42-600S is a STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) version of the ATR 42-600 which has been enhanced to reduce the required take-off and landing distances, down from 1,050 metres at present to just 800 metres. Thanks to this upgrade, several hundred more airports will be accessible by ATR, offering airlines new commercial opportunities and providing local populations with better access to the global economy, health care, education and culture.
Manate Vivish, General Manager of Air Tahiti, stated: "I am so happy to be part of the launch of this new version of the ATR. This turboprop has already earned worldwide recognition for its high-quality performance, especially for island networks. The ATR 42-600S will enable us to use higher-capacity aircraft for destinations which until now had only been accessible with much smaller aircraft. This is excellent news, both for the inhabitants of the archipelago and for the tourists who visit us."
Stefano Bortoli, ATR's Chief Executive Officer, added: "Air Tahiti has been one of our best ambassadors for over 30 years. Day after day, the airline demonstrates our aircraft's ability to serve island communities in a sustainable, responsible way. We are proud to announce that Air Tahiti is the launch customer for our ATR 42-600S, and we are convinced that this enhanced version will help the airline boost connectivity between communities even further, and support local development even more effectively."
The ATR 42-600S has excellent commercial perspectives: approximately 1,200 turboprops with 30 to 50 seats currently in service worldwide will need replacing in the years to come. Thanks to its enhanced economic performance and operational flexibility, the ATR 42-600S is in an ideal position to meet this need. Over and above its short-runway performance, it offers 50 seats with the same operating costs as a 30-seat aircraft.
These new aircraft will be operated by the Polynesian airline on routes interconnecting the Marquesas Islands. They will allow an increase in the number of passengers carried to certain destinations in the archipelago, such as Ua Pou or Ua Huka, currently served only by smaller aircraft. The introduction of these new aircraft is also a response to the airline's desire to continue to harmonise its regional fleet around ATRs, which Air Tahiti has been operating for over 30 years already.