A new Japanese regional airline called Link plans to place the first of three new 70-seat ATR 72-600s into service during next year’s fourth quarter, marking the introduction of the Franco-Italian turboprops into a market until recently held captive by rival manufacturer Bombardier.
Appearing at the Japan Aerospace Exhibition, held in Nagoya from October 9 to 14, Link said it plans to lease the airplanes, but as of press time it remained unclear whether or not they would come from an existing ATR customer.
Japan stood as one of the last Asian countries in which ATR didn’t project a presence. Some 250 ATRs fly with roughly 50 airlines throughout the region, including with Taiwan’s UNI Air, which last month took delivery of the first ATR 72-600 to operate in Asia. The airplane, one of 10 ordered by the Eva Air subsidiary, entered revenue service on October 11 with a domestic flight from Taipei to Taidong. Plans call for the airplanes to replace 50-seat Bombardier Q300s.