First ATR 72-600 freighter delivered to FedEx

By Damian Brett

FedEx ATR 72-600F

The first turboprop ATR72-600 production freighter has been delivered to express carrier FedEx as part of its fleet renewable programme.

The feeder aircraft, based on the passenger model, took three years to develop and launch and offers around nine tonnes of capacity or 75 cu metres of space. It is ATR’s first purpose built regional freighter.

The aircraft is part of a 2017 deal for a firm order for 30 of the turboprop freighter. A further six or seven are to be delivered next year and the remainder over the next five years.

FedEx also has options on a further 20 ATR-600Fs.

Speaking at a press event today, Scott Struminger, FedEx Express executive vice president and chief executive, aviation,  said that one of the main benefits of the aircraft is its large cargo door, which allows freight to be loaded on pallets, ULDs or as loose cargo.

The aircraft can carry up to five 88” x 108” pallets or up to seven LD3 containers.

He said all the 72-600F aircraft it has ordered would be operated on a CMI basis. The first aircraft will undergo some modifications by FedEx before it arrives at Shannon Airport where it will be operated by ASL Airlines Ireland, a FedEx ATR operator since 2000, between Paris CDG and the Czech Republic.

The second aircraft will operate in the US and the next three will service the Latin America region.

ATR chief executive Stefano Bortoli said there had been an surge in interest in the aircraft over the last few months in line with demand for extra freighter capacity. Although he would not reveal any names, he expected at least one additional customer to be in place by the end of 2021.

He said: “Every manufacturer is proud when it develops and delivers a brand new aircraft, and given the uniquely challenging year the industry and the whole world has faced, handing over to FedEx Express this very first ATR 72-600F is an exciting and rewarding moment for our whole team here in ATR.

“Freighters play a huge role in supplying essential connectivity between economies all over the world and the unique aspects of our modern purpose-built freighter mean it will deliver operational benefits to companies that integrate them into their fleet.

“FedEx is no stranger to ATR, with over 40 of our turboprops in their existing fleet. We are proud to continue this collaboration with this world leader and that they have chosen the ATR 72-600F as part of their fleet renewal programme. This sets FedEx at the forefront of responsible aviation with the most fuel-efficient aircraft currently on the market.”

Jorn Van De Plas, senior vice president air network and GTS Europe, FedEx Express, said: “Today’s delivery of the first ever purpose-built regional ATR freighter marks an exciting new chapter for our FedEx Express Feeder fleet.

“This is an important step in our fleet renewal strategy, ensuring we remain the most flexible, reliable, and responsible network in the business.

“During what has been a difficult year both for businesses around the world and for communities, we are proud to remain at the heart of efforts to keep trade flowing and deliver goods across Europe. This new ATR Feeder delivery lines up with our overall ‘Reduce, Replace, Revolutionise’ sustainability approach, replacing older, less efficient aircraft in a more sustainable way.”

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