A new generation of quiet, fuel-efficient and rugged turboprop aircraft such as the ATR 72-600 and Bombardier Q400 are proving to be vital to the growing economies of South-east Asia and, overall, Pacific Island nations and Latin America.
Indonesia, for example, stretches over 6,000 inhabited islands. Airline travel – using these cost-effective, versatile and modern aircraft, burning up to 40% less fuel than a jet – is often the only way to connect key centres throughout the archipelago, thanks to excellent take-off and landing performance.
In Brazil, the arrival of new more efficient aircraft have paved the way for a new domestic transport system linking 127 cities by a network of air routes, rather than road and rail links which would be expensive and environmentally damaging to build in a country covered 63% by Amazonian rain forest.
The new generation of turboprop aircraft can carry between 40 and 86 passengers in comfort and quiet and are able to access remote airports with semi-prepared runways. Their lower operating costs mean it is now possible for increasing numbers of passengers to fly to destinations which even a few years ago would have involved expensive, long journeys between islands or overland. In the early years of the decade, when economic growth really started to surge in Brazil, domestic airlines were reporting up to 40% monthly increases, year on year, in demand for domestic air services.