Kansai airport chief looks to Southeast Asia

Kyodo

The head of New Kansai International Airport Co. said he will try to increase the number of connecting flights from the Osaka area to Southeast Asia because the sharp fall in passengers on Chinese routes is expected to continue.

“The downturn in the number of passengers using Chinese services (from Kansai International Airport) may continue until around next summer,” because of Japan’s strained ties with China over the Senkakus sovereignty clash, Keiichi Ando, 61, said Thursday.

Planes to China account for about one-third of all flights at the airport. To offset the number of falling passengers, Ando said the operator is planning to approach Southeast Asian airlines, especially in Indonesia, India and Myanmar.

“Kansai International Airport has cut landing fees by 5 percent since October and we will also promote our discount plan starting in March for late-night and early morning flights,” he said.

Ando also touched on the possibility of reducing landing fees further in fiscal 2014, saying, “If our management is streamlined by the proposed merger with Osaka International Airport, we want to cut fees.”

As for domestic routes, he expects low-cost carriers to become the main users of Kansai International, noting they will “connect local cities via routes that major carriers would not offer.”

With regard to the new government to be formed by Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe this week, Ando said he hopes it will decide to participate in the talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

“Japan’s economic development will be an advantage for airports,” he said. “I want the new government to revitalize air cargo transportation.”