Virgin Australia's factory-fresh ATR-72 'turboprops' (turbine-driven propeller) are soon set to whisk business travellers along key regional routes, as part of its alliance with SkyWest – and a first look inside these nimble planes shows that passengers are in for a treat.
These fuel-efficient 68 seaters will first be used on Virgin's new Brisbane-Gladstone and Brisbane-Port Macquarie services commencing mid-October, as well as boosting the number of daily flights on the Sydney-Canberra 'Capital Connect' shuttle service.
"The ATR is the best aircraft to operate on regional routes throughout Australia” says Virgin Australia chief John Borghetti.
“It provides the greatest fuel efficiency and passenger comfort for this category of aircraft. The ATR will form the foundation of our regional network plans, with the first six ATRs replacing our current Embraer E-170 fleet and the additional aircraft flying to new regional destinations."
Virgin Australia has four ATR-72s due this year and another four due through 2012.
AusBT reader Keith Smith snapped these shots of the interior of one of the two aircraft during an evacuation exercise held at Brisbane Airport – and from this first look it seems Virgin has made good on the initial promise of a "spacious and stylish" interior.
The cabin is modern and uncluttered, with the racks used to store safety brochures and Virgin's in-flight magazine Voyeur sitting up high behind the tray table rather than down at the bottom of the seat.
That's a modern touch being adopted by some larger commercial airlines to maximise legroom, or more specifically knee-room.
We're told there is actually a lot more legroom than this pic might suggest, and that even a strapping six-footer won't feel that squeeze around the knees.