Brand new Japanese regional airline, Feel Air Holdings, signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with ATR for up to 36 aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday. The company, which aims to revolutionise the Japanese regional aviation sector and ‘change the Japanese sky’, will use its unique franchise business structure to establish a family of 5 regional airlines that will cover different areas in Japan – starting with Feel Air East in 2024.
Feel Air Holdings selected ATR due to reduced CO2 emissions and sustainability record, but also for its performance as a route operator. The airline plans to establish new regional connections throughout Japan, which currently has close to 100 airports, including 10 airports which have short runways of less than 1000m. Moreover, the airline hopes to revitalise the economy and make air travel easy and accessible for all.
The LoI confirms Feel Air’s commitment to the exclusive use of ATR aircraft for its domestic operations, with a fleet that will consist of both ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 aircraft, as well as the short take-off and landing variant, the ATR 42-600S, for easier access to smaller regional airports. Feel Air hopes to expand its fleet size by 2 aircraft every year from when it starts commercial operations in 2024.
Mr. Taiichi Kojima, President of Feel Air Holdings, said: “Feel Air Holdings aims to bring a new dynamic to Japanese regional air travel, making it more versatile, more meaningful, and more accessible to all. Thanks to their reduced CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency, ATR aircraft can help us to do this in a sustainable manner, allowing us to contribute actively to local communities while also protecting Japan’s many beautiful natural landscapes.”
Mr. Hideki Ide, Chief Executive Officer of Feel Air Holdings, said: “Over the coming years, Feel Air Holdings will establish at least five regional airlines, with a fleet that will ultimately comprise 36 ATR aircraft. Our fundamental goal is to improve regional air mobility in Japan by connecting local destinations that currently do not have air service, thereby creating stronger links between regional businesses and people, generating new markets, and enriching local economies. ATR aircraft play an essential part in our business strategy because they are the ideal size for such regional operations and demonstrate exceptional operational efficiency.”
Stefano Bortoli, ATR Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Air transport is crucial for Japan’s islands and regions, and the establishment of Feel Air will help connect Japan’s regions affordably and sustainably. At ATR, we want to help ensure that aviation and Feel Air in particular can contribute to a prosperous future for Japan. Together, we will explore many opportunities for our versatile and sustainable turboprops in the coming years, to further support Japan’s economic development and its need for quick, reliable and responsible essential services.“
With 15 ATR aircraft currently in service in Japan, ATR sees the potential for up to 100 ATR aircraft entering service in the future.