Seychelles Island Development Corporation outlines plans to add ATR – Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific
Islands Development Company (IDC), a state-owned Seychelles company that manages the archipelago’s outer islands, plans to add its first ATR next year, attributing the move to an increase in air cargo demand.
Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific reported in August last year that IDC originally planned to add ATRs to its fleet over the next three to four years, but IDC’s general manager of aviation, Marcus Labrosse, said that the plan had since evolved and the company was now aiming to get an ATR. 42-600 by the middle of next year.
“The main reason behind this is that we have a few pending projects that require a higher payload, such as a new up-and-coming luxury hotel on one of the islands that will need us to deliver fresh produce daily to surrounding areas. . future,” he says.
IDC operates a fleet of three 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, but the move to a larger aircraft, namely the 50-seat ATR 42-600, will allow the company to potentially operate the aircraft as a combination with half the cabin for passenger seats. , leaving the other half for freight, said Labrosse.
“It’s definitely a ‘win-win’ situation for us, we get to meet our cargo needs and passengers can enjoy more comfort in a larger space,” he notes.
On the question of whether to buy or lease the ATR, Labrosse says the company originally planned to buy the plane, but due to the pandemic situation, it is reassessing and discussing its options.
He adds that the market is recovering well, although tourism has not yet returned to 100% of pre-COVID passenger levels.
Phasing out the old aircraft type
Labrosse says another push factor for IDC to switch to a new aircraft type is that the Beechcraft 1900D is an older model and out of production.
“The Beechcraft 1900D serves its purpose well and we would have continued to use it if not for the fact that it had been out of production since 2002. As such it is now very difficult to obtain parts , which causes the repair work to take longer, which in turn has caused a lot of delays, leading to cancellations from our customers,” says Labrosse.
He says IDC will eventually phase out the Beechcraft 1900Ds, although there is no specific timeline.
“We’ll probably keep one model as a companion plane, because IDC manages the island runways, so we’ll still need its ability to get to certain places,” he adds.
IDC also operated a Dornier 228, but Labrosse says it sold it late last year, also due to difficulties finding spare parts.
ATR accessible to all destinations
Labrosse says the Beechcraft 1900D fleet serves ten islands, namely: Praslin, Platte, Coetivy, Desroches, D’Arros, Alphonse, Providence, Farquhar, Astove and Assomption. He says the ATR 42-600 will be used on these same routes.
“All tests and calculations taking into account the performance of the ATR have been completed, concluding that the type of aircraft can serve the ten destinations. With the exception of Platte and D’Arros which will have payload restrictions.
“The rest of the islands are accessible with the maximum payload capacity,” he adds.
Labrosse says another advantage of the ATR 42-600 is that it is certified to serve 14m-wide (46ft) runways, which is perfect for some island runways that are only 15m wide. large.
For even shorter strips of runway, on a few other islands, he says IDC plans to acquire two Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft, the first due to arrive in June and the second in July or August.
New aircraft hangar and terminal
Labrosse notes that IDC’s current hangar is not able to accommodate an ATR, so the company is building a new one.
“We have used three parcels of our land to exchange for a larger space at Pointe La Rue, and will build a new aeronautical facility there consisting of three buildings; a hangar, a departure terminal and offices.
Pointe La Rue is an administrative center of the eastern region of the island of Mahé, the largest island of the Seychelles. This land acquired by IDC once housed the Seychelles Agro Industries factory which produces food products.
IDC is funding the hangar — estimated at $1.5 million to $2 million — and an additional half million for other work, Labrosse said, adding that demolition work has begun and construction is expected to be completed in May or June next year.
Thoughts on the new ATR STOL
ATR is developing the ATR 42-600S variant, which is an upgraded version of the ATR 42-600, with superior Short Range Takeoff and Landing (STOL) capability, allowing it to take off and land on runways short 800–1,000 m (2,635–3,281 ft).
Labrosse says the new variant is a viable option for IDC, but there are many factors to consider.
“First of all, we have to think about the financial aspect, the price difference between the normal ATR 42-600 and the ATR 42-600S. We expect that the normal version can serve us well, so if the difference is too big, we could just stick with it [the standard model],” he adds.
Labrosse says the performance of the new variant is also undetermined as of now, so IDC will have to do a more in-depth evaluation of the aircraft later once this new variant has been further developed. The ATR 42-600S is a new variant in development that ATR says it aims to have certified in time for entry into service in 2024.
That said, he notes that IDC may swap the ATR 42-600 for the ATR 42-600S in the future, but nothing is “really set in stone” at this point.
Photos provided by Marcus Labrosse show some of the Seychelles islands that IDC flies to.
Seychelles Islands Development Corporation plans to add ATR 42s (September 2, 2021)