Virgin Australia ATR 72-600. Courtesy, ATR

Singapore-based leasing company Avation PLC has inked a contract for five ATR 72-600s plus eight options in a deal worth over $295 million (including the options). The aircraft, to be delivered in 2013 and 2014, will be operated by Perth-based Skywest Airlines (XR) on a range of routes on behalf of Virgin Australia (VA).

Including this order, Avation PLC has placed 13 firm orders for the ATR 72 in 2011 for XR, comprising four -500s, which are already operating on VA's regional network, and nine -600s, the first of which XR will receive next year (ATW Daily News, Aug. 11).

Like the -500s, all of the -600 aircraft will fly in Virgin’s new white and red color scheme, said ATR.

ATR CEO Filippo Bagnato said, “The first four ATR 72-500s are now operating successfully on Virgin routes in eastern Australia, and are fast gaining popularity with both the airline and its passengers … These aircraft are the right size for the routes they fly, and offer the best fuel economy of any comparable aircraft in the 70-seat range, making them ideal for Virgin.”

Avation PLC chairman Jeff Chatfield said the company has “entered discussions with respect to financing the acquisition costs of these aircraft.”