ATR has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Toki Air, a new regional commercial airline in Japan that will operate out of Niigata airport. The cooperation with ATR will help Toki Air to achieve its higher purpose of revitalizing the city of Niigata, by increasing mobility within and between surrounding regions.
Through this LOI, ATR and Toki Air are engaging in consultations to add ATR 42 aircraft to the airline’s fleet and introduce the ATR 42-600S variant – for STOL, Short Take-Off and Landing. This new version of the ATR 42-600, currently under development, 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 are expected for the beginning of 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 maximizes 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 them to adjust to any fluctuations in passenger/cargo demand.
In addition to Niigata airport, Toki Air will also operate to and from Sado Airport, located 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.
Toki Air was established in July 2020. It plans to commence operations in the summer of 2022 with four services from Niigata to Sapporo Okadama, Sendai, Kansai and Chukyo.