Australian carrier Air Vanuatu has received a new ATR 72-500 aircraft from ATR under a $20.5m contract signed in 2008.

The twin-engine aircraft, powered by PW 127M engines, has 68 seats and features extended range twin-engine operations (ETOPS).

The aircraft will enable the airline to increase its domestic fleet passenger capacity and to respond to the traffic growth on regional routes to neighbouring countries of New Caledonia and Fiji.

Air Vanuatu acting chief executive officer Joseph Laloyer said that with the introduction of the new ATR 72-500 the carrier will be able to provide much-needed extra capacity on its trunk domestic routes and to enhance its network in the South West Pacific.

The airline currently operates an ATR 42-300 on its domestic and short-haul regional routes, and a B737-800 for its flights from and to Australia and New Zealand.

Air Vanuatu, founded in December 1987, is a national flag carrier.