DALLAS – A new airline has been born in Japan. Toki Air has just celebrated the delivery of its first ATR72-600 as it prepares to commence operations as a new regional Japanese carrier in 2023. This new airline will be based in Niigata (KIJ) and will fly initially to three destinations within the Nippon country.
Toki Air is a planned low-cost carrier (LCC) founded by the Niigata Chamber of Commerce and the Niigata Association of Corporate Executives. In December 2019, the corporation established a preliminary company in Tokyo, and the company was fully incorporated in July 2020. On May 24, 2021, Toki Air flew a test flight from Tokyo Narita Airport to Sado Airport.
The carrier had expected to begin operations in 4Q2022. however, it has been delayed until late March 2023 at the earliest. Toki Air and ATR inked a global maintenance agreement contract in September 2022 for the operation of its two leased ATR 72-600s, which will begin in 2023.
Comments from Toki Air, ATR
At the delivery ceremony, Masaki Hasegawa, Representative Director of Toki Air, commented, “We are pleased to start operating our ATR 72-600 aircraft soon. Thanks to their unrivaled versatility and reliable and affordable performance, ATR aircraft are the ideal choice for us as an airline and for our country. This first aircraft will allow us to serve our higher purpose by providing a responsible and reliable air connection to the communities of the Niigata Prefecture and surrounding regions. We look forward to seeing Toki flying in the skies of Japan.”
Toki Air placed an order for 36 ATR family of aircraft, including ATR42 and ATR72, in July 2022 via NAC, an aircraft leasing company that is the leader in regional commercial aviation. NAC has been collaborating in many leasing agreements not only with ATR between airlines over the years but also with other regional aircraft manufacturers such as Embraer or De Havilland Canada.
ATR Chief Executive Officer, Nathalie Tarnaud Laude, stated: “Our long-term relationship with NAC and the confidence of the lessors’ community in our aircraft allow new airlines such as Toki Air to offer their passengers the most modern and sustainable aircraft on the regional market. The support we will be able to provide through the ATR Global Maintenance Agreement will also ensure the most reliable and efficient services.”
ATR, the Best Fit in Toki’s Plans
The ATR Family of aircraft is suited perfectly for the needs of Toki Air, as Japan’s geography is composed of very irregular terrain and high hills, which many times forces airports to be built with short runways in the smallest cities in Japan.
ATR produces their aircraft especially for these situations, not only because of being able to take off in a short distance of just 800 meters but also due to the aircraft’s high fuel efficiency, letting the airline reduce costs and offering cheaper fares adapted to customers from low-income small cities in Japan.
There are currently 15 units flying all across the country and ATR foresees a potential for 100 ATR aircraft in the medium term.
Featured Image: Toki Air ATR 72-600 (F-WWEW): Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways