ATR has signed a letter of intent with Toki Air, a new regional commercial airline in Japan that will operate out of Niigata Airport.
Toki Air is in discussions with the turboprop manufacturer to add ATR 42 aircraft to the airline’s fleet and introduce the ATR 42-600S variant – for Short Take Off and Landing (STOL).
The new 'S' version of the ATR 42-600 is currently under development and will offer take-off and landing capabilities on runways as short as 800 meters with 40 passengers on board in standard flight conditions.
First deliveries of the ATR 42-600S are expected in early 2025.
Toki Air has already signed a lease agreement for two ATR 72-600 that will start operating in 2022.
Toki Air and ATR have been working closely together on identifying the best routes for the aircraft, developing an airline business model that maximises the various advantages that ATR aircraft have to offer.
The airline has chosen ATR turboprops for their compatibility with regional connectivity in a country like Japan, as well as their operational efficiency that allows for reduced CO2 emissions and cost-effective air travel.
Toki Air will also be the first Japanese operator to introduce ATR’s Cargo Flex solution into their fleet, and this will help the airline to adjust to any fluctuations in passenger/cargo demand.
Stefano Bortoli, ATR Chief Executive Officer, said, “The ATR 42-600S version is a vital tool to expand the horizons of many remote communities around the world, and it is particularly true in Japan. Air routes constitute an essential part of the archipelago’s domestic travel and transportation and we know how difficult it is to ensure these links in a sustainable way. With the ATR 42-600S, we strongly believe we can offer the right solution to Japan’s requirements, now and in the future.”
In addition to Niigata Airport, Toki Air will also operate to and from Sado Airport (SDS) on Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata.
The main challenge is to take off and land on its short runway, which measures only 890 meters – for which the ATR 42-600S would be a perfect fit.
The purchase of ATR 42-600S would make Toki Air the first Japanese airline to operate this type of aircraft, positioning them as pioneers in the regional aviation network in Japan.© Travel News Asia