Japanese start-up files for bankruptcy, thwarts ATR's entry into Japan

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Japanese start-up carrier Link Airs has filed for bankruptcy, thwarting airframer ATR’s planned entry into the Japanese market.

ATR had announced at the Japan Aerospace show in 2012 that Link had signed to lease three ATR 72-600s. The deal was done with lessor Nordic Aviation Capital.

Link had previously told Flightglobal Pro it was expecting to receive its air operator's certificate last November, and to start operations in March 2014.

It had even planned to deploy the turboprops on five times and thrice daily services from Fukuoka to Miyasaki and Matsuyama respectively, and twice daily services on the Kitakyushu-Matsuyama route.

Last November, ATR posted a picture of an ATR 72-600 bearing Link's livery on its Twitter account. It said that the aircraft had rolled out of the paint shop.

When contacted, an ATR spokesman confirmed that "Link Airs went into bankruptcy", and that the turboprops will be re-allocated to another airline.

He adds that ATR still expects to eventually enter the Japanese market. Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau has also issued certification to the ATR 72-600 last November, which should "ease the introduction of the ATRs in the near future, hopefully".

Link had previously told Flightglobal Pro that the airline it is wholly owned by businessman Sugiyama Koichi. The airline had also said that Japanese carrier StarFlyer will assist in the setting up of its operations. In the second phase, the co-operation would have included strategic areas such as route and network planning.

Link could not be contacted for further comments.