Kansai airport adds late-night flight

OSAKA — Kansai International Airport was expected to launch the nation’s first after-midnight passenger flight early May 2, taking a step toward its goal of becoming a 24-hour regional hub.

A Thai Airways International Public Co. flight from Bangkok was scheduled to arrive at 12:40 a.m. and take off for Los Angeles at 1:50 a.m. The flight will be available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Thai airline also is inaugurating flights from Los Angeles to Bangkok, arriving in Osaka at 3:40 a.m. and leaving at 5:15 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. But if the airport is to truly operate around the clock, many problems must be solved, not the least of which is how, in the wee hours, to get passengers to and from Osaka’s downtown, roughly 40 km from the airport.

The airport has made limited preparations for red-eye flights, such as extending the hours of its affiliated duty-free shop for passengers in transit. But for passengers who are disembarking, there is no transportation except taxis.

Airport officials say airlines should be responsible for ground transportation. Airlines counter that it is the airport’s job to provide access to the city center.