LONDON – Today’s strong order advertised by ATR from Feel Air represents the manufacturer’s strong representation in the Japanese regional market.
Feel Air signed a Letter of Intent with the French manufacturer this week for up to 36 ATR aircraft, including the 72-600 and the 42STOL program.
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.“
So with that in mind, let’s contextualise this point through the introduction of Feel Air, as well as what Stefano Bortoli, the ATR CEO mentioned in particular about Japan.
Introducing Feel Air…
Feel Air is a very interesting airline, having only become established last month, following establishment delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline currently has around 83,000,000JPY in start-up capital, which has enabled them to write a letter of intent for ATR.
For the 36 aircraft included, Feel Air will receive comprehensive support from the manufacturer of the 72-600, 42-600 and 42-600STOL in order to ensure smooth introductions to the aircraft.
Feel Air is the Holdings company. What they have in store is quite exciting.
Feel Air Holdings is going to launch five subsidiaries in Japan over the next six years, offering the following names:
- Feel Air East
- Feel Air Central
- Feel Air West
- Feel Air North
- Feel Air South
These five airlines will cover the entire Japanese archipelago, and the 36 aircraft will be split amongst the subsidiaries in the following ways:
- Feel Air East – 11 aircraft – First order to commence in April 2023 – Entry into service in Spring 2024.
- Feel Air West – 10 aircraft – First order to commence in November 2024 – Entry into service in Spring 2026.
- Feel Air Central – 5 aircraft – First order to commence in November 2025 – Entry into service in Spring 2027.
- Feel Air North – 5 aircraft – First order to commence in November 2026 – Entry into service in Spring 2028.
- Feel Air South – 5 aircraft – First order to commence in December 2026 – Entry into service in Spring 2028.
Feel Air were keen to note that the East subsidiary will be the benchmark for the other four independent airlines.
The airline also has four key aims for operating the airline, which is to make air travel enjoyable and accessible to all, create unique opportunities for an authentic regional experience, contribute to the promotion of continuous regional revitalization and encourage people and business into movement and action.
This links in with their Sustainable Development Goals of providing lifelines to those affected by natural disasters, build a strong complementarity with local transportation, operate routes that are not easily connected on land as well as helping to expand the scope of activity of regional businesses to a national level.
Bortoli: Consolidation in Japanese Market…
There are currently 15 ATR aircraft flying across Japan with three operators. Two more operators will start operations as well in the coming months. In total, ATR sees a potential for 100 ATR aircraft operating in Japan in the medium term.
This was also bolstered by Bortoli, as consolidation and centralization of the Japanese regional market is a priority for him.
He wants to ensure that ATR has the maximum market share capability in order to do well in the region, and could in turn use this as a potential success story for other regions across the world.
Bortoli also talked about Feel Air’s words about there being 10 airports in Japan that have a runway length of less than 1,000 metres, which means that the STOL will work well in the region.
Is ATR Using Japan As A Case Study for Unique Success Down The Line?
With this in mind, ATR is definitely planning ahead for the future, and it can be definitely anticipated that if the Japanese model works well for the manufacturer, it’s going to work elsewhere.
This equivalent to the Icelandair model with Northern Pacific is something similar to what ATR want to emulate. If this works, then it can generate orders from regional carriers, which will contribute to the backlog on a more healthier scale.
And this is something that Bortoli will want to see, especially as travel demand in the sector continues to skyrocket following everyone being locked away due to COVID-19.
So this is definitely being utilized as a case study for some form of unique success which ATR will experience down the line when Feel Air is in full operation and when all aircraft are delivered.
It remains clear that this is much more than an order. This is the beginning of a new change in direction for ATR, and it is something to be excited about.
Regional travel will need to make a comeback, especially with the travel demand requiring regional links to calm the effects of the travel chaos that we have seen after a pandemic.
Bortoli is definitely being clever with this, and so much so are Feel Air with their five subsidiaries, as this regional connectivity model has definite grounds for success.