OSAKA – A consortium led by Orix Corp. has signed a contract with a debt-ridden government-backed company to take over the operation of two major airports in Osaka Prefecture, in a ¥2.2 trillion deal.
Kansai Airports, formed by Orix and Vinci Airports of France, will start operating Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport in April under a 44-year contract, making it one of Japan’s biggest projects employing private funds for the operation of public facilities.
At a news conference held jointly Tuesday by Kansai Airports and the government-backed New Kansai International Airport Co., Kansai Airports CEO Yoshiyuki Yamaya said, “We will work toward making the airports something we can be proud of.”
He also expressed eagerness to increase long-distance services, such as flights linking the airports with Europe and the United States, in addition to Asian countries.
The new operator has said it is aiming for around ¥250 billion in revenue in fiscal 2059, the final year of the contract, up 60 percent from fiscal 2014 that ended March. The annual number of passengers at the two airports is projected by the company to increase 70 percent to about 58 million.
Kansai Airports, headquartered in Osaka, was set up Dec. 1 and is co-managed by representatives from Orix and Vinci Airports, which has expertise related to the development and operation of airports in France and elsewhere. Orix is a general leasing company.
Another 30 companies in the Kansai region are expected to invest in Kansai Airports by April.
New Kansai International Airport has decided to sell the operating rights to the airports while retaining ownership, hoping involvement of the private sector will attract more customers and help the company repay its debt of more than ¥1 trillion.