Silver Airways brings the ATR 72 back to the mainland U.S.
Silver Airways' first ATR 72 took off between Tampa and Pensacola on Saturday, returning the turboprop to the fleet of a mainland U.S. carrier for the first time in seven years.
The Fort Lauderdale-based regional carrier is scheduled to operate the ATR 72-600 on flights between Tampa (TPA) and Key West (EYW), Nassau (NAS) and Pensacola (PNS) through the end of the year, according to Cirium schedule data. The ATR 72-600 is the latest variant of the turboprop that first debuted in 1989. Silver configures its models of the aircraft with 70 seats in a 2-by-2 configuration.
JetBlue Airways and United Airlines both codeshare with Silver on the new ATR 72 routes, according to Cirium schedule data. This means passengers who booked flights with JetBlue or United to one of the aforementioned cities could get the treat of flying on a new turboprop this holiday season.
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The prop joins Silver's growing fleet of 46-seat ATR 42-600s that debuted in April. The airline plans to replace its 34-seat Saab 340 turboprops with the more modern aircraft.
“Starting operations of the new ATR 72-600 aircraft is another great milestone for Silver Airways," said Silver CEO Steve Rossum in a statement Monday. "The ATR 42-600 has been well received and highly praised by our customers and team members this year, and we’re looking forward to even further expanding our world-class service with extended reach in the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean with the new larger ATR 72-600.”
Silver has ordered up to 50 ATR 42s and 72s, with six of the former and one of the latter now in its fleet, according to the airline.
The return of the ATR 72 comes seven years after American Airlines retired the type from operations in the contiguous U.S. American Eagle last flew the type between its Miami (MIA) hub and both Jacksonville (JAX) and Key West in November 2012, though flights from its former San Juan (SJU) hub continued into early 2013, Cirium schedules show.
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Defunct Hawaii regional carrier Island Air also flew the ATR 72 from 2013 until it shut down in 2017, and Bahamasair operates the type between Florida and the Bahamas today.
The ATR 72 used to be fairly common in the U.S. American was the first to fly the type in its Eagle fleet in 1990, with other operators including Delta Connection carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines flying it through 2008.
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The new ATR 72 comes at a time of change for Silver Airways. After acquiring Seaborne Airlines and adding its hub in San Juan to the Silver network in 2018, the regional airline is both expanding its map and adding new partnerships, including with American and Delta Air Lines.
Silver plans to begin flying its new ATR 72s from San Juan, where they will replace Saabs, next year, the airline said.