OSAKA – The number of foreign visitors passing through Kansai International Airport in 2012 soared 31 percent from a year earlier to a record 3.601 million, due partly to the inauguration of flights by new low-cost carriers, according to the airport operator.
The number was the highest since the airport was opened on a man-made island in Osaka Bay in 1994, New Kansai International Airport Co. said Tuesday in a preliminary report.
The figure also signified a sharp rebound from 2011, when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged a wide area of northeastern Japan and the resulting nuclear crisis deterred many foreign travelers.
The numbers of tourists from South Korea and Taiwan appear to have soared, although the number of travelers from China was down due to anti-Japanese sentiment after Japan effectively nationalized the disputed Senkaku Islands, the operator said.
Meanwhile, the company said it aims to resume flights between the airport and Vancouver, British Columbia. The operator plans to team up with a public corporation operating Vancouver International Airport to reopen the route — suspended since October 2008 — after determining it would attract enough passengers, mainly tourists.
787 APU battery check
The Japan Transport Safety Board said Wednesday it will conduct an analysis of a battery for the auxiliary power unit used in Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner operated by All Nippon Airways Co. that made an emergency landing last week.
Japanese and U.S. transport authorities are currently looking into the main battery of the plane that caught fire.
The battery for the APU was intact, but the safety board said it decided to inspect the two batteries — both made by GS Yuasa Corp. — to get comparative data.
An electrical fire that caused smoke in the cabin of another Dreamliner jet operated by Japan Airlines Co. in Boston earlier this month originated from the aft lithium-ion battery for the APU.
Analysis of the main battery of the ANA jet continued Wednesday at a Tokyo facility of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Following a CT scan of the charred battery, it will be sent to GS Yuasa for detailed scrutiny, the safety board said. The main 787 battery is in a compartment under the cockpit.