TAROM will take delivery of nine new ATR 72-600s from February 2020 onwards. The airline was originally supposed to receive the aircraft in October, but internal struggles have complicated the process.
Flight Global reported yesterday on TAROM’s order of nine new ATR 72-600s.
According to Romania’s Ministry of Transport, TAROM will be renewing its entire fleet of turboprop ATRs. Currently, the airline operates seven ATR 42-500s and two ATR 72-500s.
The airline will receive four of the nine new ATR 72-600s by February, with the rest being delivered over the rest of the year.
TAROM’s new ATR fleet
Rather than buying the new ATR 72-600s outright, TAROM will be leasing them from Nordic Aviation Capital.
TAROM Technical Division, which provides technical support for several other companies, will be maintaining the new ATR fleet over the next 10 years.
TAROM is one of Europe’s most experienced ATR operators. Back when the agreement was signed, ATR’s CEO Stefano Bortoli said:
“We are proud to see this long-time customer renew its partnership with the ATR 72-600, the regional aircraft with the best environmental credentials.”
The manufacturer says that the new aircraft will offer TAROM 330,000 additional seats every year at the same operating cost as its current ATR fleet.
This is important for the Ministry of Transport, which says:
“The new ATRs will not incur additional operating costs, but will have increased transport capacity.”
Profitability is one of TAROM’s most important considerations at the moment. This is because it aims to recover after a trying couple of months.
This year TAROM has been through a total of four different interim CEOs. This constant change of leadership has frustrated several processes at the airline, including the ATR deal.
Just last week TAROM requested around €150 million in subsidies from the Romanian government. The Romanian government has had to request special circumstances from the European Union to allow it to provide the subsidies to TAROM.
Without financial support, the airline looks set to post a loss of €40 million in 2019.
Back in October, TAROM’s general manager, Madalina Mezei, was dismissed from the airline. Her dismissal pushed Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate to start an investigation.
The investigation centers on allegations that Mezei was asked by former transport minister Razvan Cuc to cancel flights carrying Romanian MPs.
Many different parties have been dragged into the investigation and there are even claims that the Romanian Intelligence Service may have had some sort of involvement.
After Mezei was removed from TAROM, the man who was selected to take her position refused to take the job.
Valentin Gvinda turned down the position, making way for George Costin Barbu, who has now been in charge since 21 October.
Now the airline appears to have weathered its rough patch at the top. But there is still the issue of its highly diversified fleet.
Altogether, out of just 25 active aircraft, TAROM’s fleet consists of aircraft from eight different manufacturers. The new, more cost-effective ATRs should help TAROM operate more efficiently. However, it will likely have to switch to one or two manufacturers to cut costs enough to remain profitable.