Japan's regional airports gear up for influx of foreign visitors

Japan's regional airports gear up for influx of foreign visitors
New Chitose Airport, outside Sapporo, seeks to accommodate the surge in international passengers.
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

TOKYO - The airports serving Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa are among the regional gateways with plans to expand and renovate amid a surge in overseas visitors.

New Chitose Airport, outside of Sapporo, is to undergo its biggest overhaul since opening in 1988. In addition to building a new terminal, plans call for reconfiguring the layout of taxiways and other facilities. A dedicated terminal for budget carriers also is being considered. The initiative likely will cost more than 100 billion yen ($806 million), including private investment. The transport ministry is reviewing the project, with an eye toward requesting partial funding in the fiscal 2016 budget.

More than 1.5 million passengers came through the airport on international flights last year, a 50 per cent increase in two years. Expanding the area for parking planes and adding taxiways for international service are priorities.

Fukuoka Airport plans to add a second runway, with an environmental impact study underway. The runway, slated for completion as early as the mid-2020s, will increase the airport's flight capacity by 26 per cent.

Naha Airport, serving Okinawa's largest city, is constructing a second runway due to go online in 2020. The airport currently operates a single 3,000-meter runway, shared with the Self-Defence Forces.

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