ATR Targets Japanese Market As Major Growth Center

Japan Air Commuter ATR 42-600
Credit: ATR

Turboprop manufacturer ATR believes that Japan will be home to a 100-strong fleet of the type “in a few years,” CEO Stefano Bortoli said June 8. 

There are currently just 15 examples of the Franco-Italian aircraft flying in Japan. ATR says it is stepping up its presence in Japan as the country sees an increase in demand for regional aviation in the wake of the pandemic.  

The manufacturer entered the Japanese market six years ago. The 15 ATR aircraft operating in Japan fly with three operators: Amakusa Airline, HAC and Japan Air Commuter (JAC), with the last of these operating 11 of the total fleet in Japan.  

Two new operators, Toki Air and ORC, are also scheduled to start operating ATR aircraft. Toki Air, which will operate out of Niigata Airport, plans initially to operate two leased ATR 72-600s when it starts services late in 2022, but is in talks over adopting the new ATR 42-600S STOL version, which will be able to operate in and out of short runways. Among Toki Air’s planned destinations is Sado, located on Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata. The airport’s runway measures just 890 m (2,900 ft.); the ATR 42-600S is designed to get into runways as short as 800 m. 

“We see 100 ATR aircraft flying in Japan in a few years,” Bortoli said, speaking in Japan. “Air transport is crucial for the archipelago, where air routes are essential for domestic travel and transportation. We want to help ensure that aviation contributes to a prosperous future for Japan by connecting its regions ever more sustainably and affordably.”  

Bortoli said most of the new ATRs will replace older, less efficient models, and will connect islands and remote regions with the country’s major cities. 

Japan is aiming to reduce emissions by 46% by 2030, and ATR says that its turboprops’ 40% lower emissions of CO2 compared to regional jets will contribute toward this goal. ATR’s planned new PW127XT engine and the possibility of using up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel will further reduce the type’s emissions, the OEM said. 

“The Japanese airlines that operate ATR aircraft can connect all regions, even remote ones, to larger hubs in Japan in a sustainable manner,” ATR SVP Commercial Fabrice Vautier said. “Soon, with the STOL version of our aircraft, we will contribute to serving even smaller airports across the Japanese archipelago: there are 10 airports in Japan with short airstrips that provide vital links for those communities.” 


Alan Dron

Based in London, Alan is Europe & Middle East correspondent at Air Transport World.