Both firms signed the purchase agreement for the ATR 72-600 planes at the Singapore Airshow, with an option for the leasing company to buy 20 more of the aircraft.

Dubai Aerospace is the biggest aviation leasing firm in the Middle East with an aircraft portfolio of approximately $3.3 billion comprising Boeing B737s and B777s, as well as Airbus A320s and A330s.

The 20 planes on firm order are worth $494 million at list prices, and the aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018.

"We aim to diversify our portfolio and expand into regional aircraft to meet an increasing demand from airlines that are developing regional air connectivity," said Khalifa AlDaboos, managing director of Dubai Aerospace.

ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato said the partnership with Dubai Aerospace "will further enhance the visibility of our brand and our products in the Middle East, where we expect to continue developing our presence in the very next years".

The ATR order is the Dubai Aerospace's first for regional aircraft, a designation given to planes that can seat 90 passengers or less.

The ATR 72-600 can seat between 68 and 74 passengers.