The chances of ATR gaining quick approval from both its shareholders for a new large turboprop aircraft appear remote; suggest comments made by Airbus Group Chief Strategy Officer Marwan Lahoud at the company’s annual press conference in Toulouse.

According to Lahoud, Airbus Group is not ready to clear the 90-seat project for now.

“We have no divergence with Finmeccanica except for the timing,” Lahoud says. “We want to enjoy the success [of ATR], and any new project would have an adverse effect [on profits].”

ATR has been lobbying its shareholders, Airbus Group and Finmeccanica (each of which holds a 50% stake in the joint venture), to support development of a new turboprop which would have at least 90 seats and thus would be significantly larger than the ATR-72.

Finmeccanica has been supportive of the proposal, but Airbus Group is hesitant.

For such a project, ATR would likely not only have to rely on significant engineering know-how from its corporate parents, but also on financial backing from them.

Given ATR’s sales success with its current products, Lahoud argues that “it would be completely counterintuitive” to launch a new aircraft, now that the consortium is “at last” enjoying large sales successes. Lahoud’s comments are in line with Airbus’s position so far: a new turboprop should not be ruled out, but it will not be launched anytime soon.

Lahoud is more open about the possibility of changing the corporate structure of ATR from a loose groupement d’interet economique to a consolidated company.

He says Airbus is willing to discuss a leaner structure for ATR.


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