Japan's 1st "Regional LCC" Set to Launch Next Spring with 4 Routes out of Fukuoka & Kitakyushu

Japan's 1st

LINK will operate ATR72-600.

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Link Inc., a new low-cost carrier (LCC) based in Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, announced on July 16 that it will commence service on four routes connecting its hubs Fukuoka and Kitakyushu airports with Miyazaki and Matsuyama in the spring of 2014.

Link submitted a business permit application to The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) on the 12th. The company plans to stand out by offering low fares on "regional" short-haul routes connecting major cities with regional ones. Unlike conventional LCCs that fly between large cities, Link will market itself as Japan's first "regional LCC" as well as offer in-flight drinks and basic services free of charge.

Link will operate a fleet of two ATR72-600s, a state-of-the-art turboprop airplane that will make its Japan debut with the LCC. Each aircraft will seat 68 to 74 passengers. Link plans to upgrade to a fleet of three planes to expand service to all four routes a month after it commences service. The flight schedule will tentatively begin with five daily roundtrip flights between Fukuoka and Miyazaki, three between Fukuoka and Matsuyama and two between Kitakyushu and Matsuyama, with additional flights on the Fukuoka-Miyazaki route and a new Kitakyushu-Miyazaki route with the addition of the third aircraft.

Link has already formed a business tie-up with Kitakyushu-based StarFlyer Inc. to prepare for the service launch and support operations. The fleet's livery is still under consideration, but Link plans to announce this and other details in October. For the future the airline plans to add routes to other airports in the Chugoku region of western Japan and short-haul international routes.