Asian national airline Garuda Indonesia has officially celebrated the first domestic flights of its first ATR 72-600. The aircraft took to the sky from Denpasar (Bali) at 08.00 am (local time) on December 2, 2013 to operate a series of charters to the airports of Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara province) and Bima (West Nusa Tenggara province) in the presence of the management teams of the airline and ATR.
The aircraft, the first of 25 firm ATR 72-600s, plus 10 options that will be added to the carrier’s fleet in a joint agreement between the airline, ATR and the Danish leasing firm Nordic Aviation Capital, latterly entered regular scheduled operations on December 3, 2013. According to Garuda Indonesia’s current flight schedule the ATR 72-600s will be used on flights from Denpasar to Bima, Labuan Bajo and Lombok with one stop services to Ende and Tambolaka.
“This is a major milestone in our policy of expanding regional connectivity across our country,” said Emirsyah Satar, president and chief executive officer of Garuda Indonesia. “The introduction of our new modern regional ATR turboprop aircraft represents a big step beyond of our 'Quantum Leap 2011-2015' transformation and expansion program, which aims to specially strengthen our domestic service”.
To mark the introduction of the new 70-seater turboprop into passenger service, Garuda Indonesia has revealed a new ‘Explore’ brand to support its enhanced regional operations. “This ATR 72-600 with ‘Explore’ brand will increase the connectivity between new tourism and new economic growth destinations in remote areas as well as to explore the richness and diversity of Indonesia,” added Satar.
The ATR turboprop family has been popular with operators across Asia and has pretty much become the reference for regional transportation in South East Asia. The manufacturer has received orders for more than 170 ATR 72s, -mostly '-600s'- from ASEAN carriers since 2005. This represents almost all the sales for regional aircraft below 90-seats in the region during this period.