New runway at Kansai airport nears government approval

The government will give the go-ahead to construct a second runaway at Kansai International Airport, to be operational in 2007, government sources said Sunday.

The government is in the final stages of dividing up the expense in the fiscal 2005 budget, they said.

Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki and transport chief Kazuo Kitagawa are expected to agree on the budgetary allocation before the Finance Ministry compiles a draft budget, the sources said.

The government has grown more supportive of a new runaway after the airport reported a profit in the April-September period for the first time since opening 10 years ago.

The sources said the government also welcomes a plan by the Osaka Prefectural Government and other local authorities to compile a 500 million yen package to attract more people to the airport.

However, the question of whether to downgrade the status of the nearby Itami airport to a domestic-only airport needs to be resolved before the government approves the new runway for Kansai.

The Finance Ministry wants to downgrade the airport, but the Hyogo Prefectural Government and 11 nearby municipalities are opposed as they would receive fewer national subsidies.