Tarom (RO, Bucharest Otopeni) will now take delivery of its first new-build Avions de Transport Régional turboprops in February 2020, the carrier's owner, the Romanian government, has announced.

The Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications said in a statement on December 27 that Tarom's management had signed a final lease agreement covering nine new ATR72-600s. Nordic Aviation Capital said in a statement in June this year that it anticipated taking delivery the first of the aircraft in October only for that date to lapse given the absence of a finalised deal.

With the contract now in place, the Ministry said the first four ATR72-600s will arrive, at the latest, by early February next year, with the remaining five aircraft to follow during the course of the year. The leases will run for a period of 10 years each.

"I have seen that lately, after going through a lot of 'turbulence', the national carrier Tarom is beginning to recover," Minister Lucian Bode said.

"Following on from my initial discussions with the company's current management, I asked that all focus be directed towards profitability. All 'channels' through which funds that can be used for investment must be allowed to flow. Every cent that is spent by the company must contribute to its recovery. In my capacity as minister they have all the support they need, but I want the efforts that we are jointly undertaking to produce results. Therefore, the conclusion of this contract is in line with the objectives set forth by Tarom management. It is an important step in fleet renewal, a process I support and which will continue. Everyone involved in Tarom must know that I am very involved with everything that is going on there and I will be their partner when it comes to development."

Tarom will use the incoming -600s to replace its existing fleet of seven ATR42-500s (average around 21.3 years of age) and two ATR72-500s (which average 10.7 years of age) used on domestic Romanian routes as well as shorthaul regional flights.

Tarom has already selected the B737 MAX for its B737 fleet renewal drive with five B737-8s currently on order from Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare).