Japanese regional travel could soon see significant expansion following the latest deal made at Farnborough Air Show. On Monday, Feel Air Holdings signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to buy up to 36 Aircraft from European plane-maker ATR. The firm plans to establish “at least five” regional airlines in the coming years.

Feel Air Signs LOI with ATR

Japanese start-up Feel Air Holdings signed an LOI with ATR on Monday, stating its intention to buy up to 36 ATR planes. The fleet, which will be used for domestic travel, will be comprised of ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 aircraft. It will also feature the short take-off and landing variant, the ATR 42-600S, to use at some of Japan’s smaller regional airports. 

Japan's Feel Air and ATR at Farnborough Air Show
The two companies signing the LOI at Farnborough Air Show | ATR

“Our fundamental goal is to improve regional air mobility in Japan by connecting local destinations that currently do not have air service,” says Feel Air CEO Hideki Ide. By bringing air service to currently unserved destinations, Ide believes Feel Air will aid in “creating stronger links between regional businesses and people, generating new markets, and enriching local economies.”

Looking Ahead at Japan’s Regional Airlines

The Airline said in a press release that the LOI confirms their commitment to exclusively use ATR aircraft for its future operations. Ide says the company’s intention is to establish at least five regional airlines in the coming years, using the manufacturer’s aircraft. The first of these, Feel Air EAST, is scheduled to begin operations in 2024

“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,” said ATR, who expect to see 100 ATR aircraft operating in Japan in the medium term.

Currently, three airlines use ATR planes in Japan, totalling 15 aircraft overall. The firm says two more carriers will begin operations in the coming months, adding to the tally. 

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