Introducing a new aircraft into the fleet presents airlines with all manner of issues to sort out. Not the least of those is keeping the aircraft well-maintained and reliably in service, without the years of maintenance experience that makes that possible.
In July, Egyptian low-cost carrier Air Cairo agreed to lease six ATR 72-600 turboprops from Nordic Aviation Capital, the leading aircraft lessor in the regional market. At that time, Air Cairo was operating an all-jet fleet of six Airbus A320-200s and four A320-200neos, with a total of 19 A320neos to be delivered by 2024. Air Cairo inducted its first ATR 72-600 in July, and the remaining five are due to arrive by the end of this year.
Who is best to look after an ATR?
Last week the airline announced it had signed a five-year Global Maintenance Agreement (GMA) with ATR to look after the six aircraft it built. The GMA is a pay-by-the-hour (PBH) contract that provides Air Cairo with maintenance support, including the repair, overhaul and pooling services of the Line Replaceable Units on the 72-600s. The agreement also includes an on-site stock of spare parts and propellor blade availability and maintenance services to make the GMA more productive and efficient.
Hussein Sherif is the CEO of Air Cairo, and he explained that being profitable means not only having the right aircraft but also making the most of them. This is particularly so in a low-fare environment where being profitable is a daily, even hourly, challenge. He added:
“As we are reintroducing the ATR platform in Egypt after 15 years, we want to ensure we can offer our passengers the most modern, comfortable and reliable experience. Our choice of the aircraft type will assist on the former two points, while the ATR GMA will support our effort to deliver on the latter to our passengers.”
Air Cairo was launched in 2003 and is majority-owned by EgyptAir, the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt. Air Cairo operates to 59 destinations in 22 countries on 101 routes. Domestically it flies to eight destinations, including the resort destination of Sharm El Sheikh, Alexandria and Hurghada on the Red Sea coast. Looking at data from ch-aviation.com, the two ATR 72-600s it’s now operating are registered SU-BVC and SU-BVD, both in the standard configuration of 72 seats.
The initial Air Cairo ATR delivered was first delivered in June 2014 to Golden Myanmar Airlines, registered as XY-AJS. It operated with Golden Myanmar until April 2021, when it was withdrawn and parked, likely another aircraft grounded due to the pandemic. It then spent time in Malaysia at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) before spending Christmas at Toulouse Francazal Airport (LFBF), now registered as OY-YEA. In April, it went to Mönchengladbach Airport (MGL) in Germany, staying there until its ferry flight to Cairo on July 15th with its SU-BVC registration.
EgyptAir has an all-jet fleet
Parent company EgyptAir has no turboprops but does have 73 jets, with most of the flying done by 29 Boeing 737-800s. Other narrowbody capacity comes from 10 Airbus A320-family and 12 Airbus A220-300s, although eight are inactive. The rest of EgyptAir’s fleet comprises seven A330s, six 777-300ERs, six 787-9s and three A330-200P2F freighters.
It seems a smart move by Air Cairo to partner up with ATR, particularly in the harsher environment that will greet the 72-600s.
If you have flown with Air Cairo, please let us know about your experience with the airline.