January 18, 2010 / 2:36 PM / 9 years ago

Prop plane maker ATR sees signs of recovery

PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Regional turbo-prop manufacturer ATR forecast more than 50 plane deliveries in 2010, in line with 54 in 2009 despite glimmers of recovery.

The joint venture between Airbus parent EADS EAD.PA and Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica SIFI.MI said on Monday it aimed for 70 deliveries a year in the medium term but was wary of feeding overcapacity in the ever volatile regional market.

“2010 has a high level of uncertainty but we are seeing signs of recovery and we are very optimistic on the turbo-prop market,” chief executive Stephane Mayer told reporters.

The early signs of recovery come after several airlines cancelled or deferred plane orders in recent months.

ATR took 40 new firm orders in 2009, down from 42 in 2008.

ATR reported 2009 revenues of $1.4 billion, up 7 percent, and predicted stable revenues in 2010. Planemakers earn the bulk of their revenues from deliveries of aircraft sold in previous years due to production lead times.

Mayer said ATR made a profit in 2009 but declined to give detail of the operating figures which are consolidated at the level of both EADS and Finmeccanica, the joint parent firms.

ATR makes 40-70 seat twin-engined turboprops, a technology which has been relatively resilient as fuel prices made the propellor competitive against jets engines over small distances.

It plans an upgraded model called the ATR-600 which Mayer said would be ready on time in the first half of 2011.

The European company competes with Canadian group Bombardier (BBDb.TO) and says it has a market share of 70 percent. Both companies’ turbo-prop planes are powered by engines from Pratt & Whitney Canada, part of United Technologies (UTX.BN). (Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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