Why the ATR-72 sells better than the Q400
Posted by theflyingengineer
To an airline, 5 ATR72s can be bought in the price of 4 Q400s, and still a good amount can be saved. This gives 360 seats for the ATR operator as compared to 312 seats for the Q400 operator. On top of this, the ATR72 consumes much lesser fuel, which can translate to savings. Typical operations on the 300NM sector reveal the ATR having only a 7 minute disadvantage in exchange for about 300kgs of fuel savings. Three ATR72s will save 900kgs of fuel over three Q400 flights, sufficient to fuel another ATR72 over 300NM. The ATR72 breaks even at around 35% load factor, while for the Q400 it is a much higher 60%. The ATR72 makes absolute and undisputed economic sense.
ATR has grabbed 80% of the regional turboprop market share, with record 144 orders for its ATR72-600, in stark contrast to a pale sales book for Bombardier's Q400. Here is the why and how of it.
The Q400 to any passenger appears sleeker, faster, and better. Bombardier boasts off an amazing plane that can perform much like a jet, flying faster and higher than the ATR 72-500 or -600, while carrying more passengers. What Bombardier doesn't acknowledge is that the fuel consumption of the Q400 is around 30% higher than the ATR72's, for the same leg. Despite the fact that the Q400 can pack in 6 passengers more than its competition at a comfortable 30″ seat pitch, and theoretically fly an extra 300Nm flight in a day, the economics still work in favour of the ATR72.
The ATR72-600 even costs much lesser than a Q400, by at least US$7Million.
In the airline business, it all comes down to the dollar.
The only real market that has embraced the Q400 is North America. Longer routes that the Q400 replaces with jets makes sense. But in the rest of the world, regional routes are truly regional, and the job is well done by the ATR72, be it the -500 or the -600. This has led to a larger number of ATR72 aircraft in operation, which has an important effect: a higher resale value. A used ATR72 can fetch much more than a similarly used Q400, all because the demand-supply economics work in its favour.
ATR is stretching its production limits on the ATR72, while Bombardier is going the other way with the Q400. The problem with Bombardier is more with the manufacturer than the aircraft itself. Bombardier's focus is...