OSAKA — Kansai officials have announced that costs for extensions to Kansai International Airport will be slashed by 140 billion yen.

Faced with strong pressure from the central government to reduce costs, the measures include postponing indefinitely construction of a third, crosswind runway.

The Committee to Promote the Building of Kansai Airport, headed by Osaka Gov. Fusae Ota and Yoshihisa Akiyama, head of the Kansai Economic Federation, announced the decision at the committee’s annual general meeting Monday.

“The 140 billion yen will be cut by the introduction of new technologies that will save money, and by not reclaiming land for the third, crosswind runway,” Akiyama said.

Landfill for the second runway, scheduled to open in 2007, will continue as planned, he said.

Costs for the land reclamation are expected to top 1 trillion yen, while another 210 billion yen will be needed for the 4,000-meter runway and connecting taxiways. Another 210 billion yen will go for additional passenger facilities after the runway becomes operational.

Since opening in 1994, Kansai airport has accumulated operating losses of more than 157 billion yen and has total debts of nearly 1.2 trillion yen.

Many foreign airlines have shut down or suspended routes because of pricey landing fees — currently the second-highest in the world behind Narita airport. On top of this, the Tokyo-based Foreign Airlines Association of Japan has questioned the need for a second runway.

Akiyama said there are no plans to reduce landing fees anytime soon, adding that the issue is being discussed.

Last month, Ota traveled to New York and Delta Air Lines headquarters in Atlanta in an attempt to persuade U.S. airlines, which account for only 17 percent of traffic at Kansai airport, to increase the number of flights.

While Ota said at Monday’s meeting that direct New York to Kansai flights are a possibility, none of the major U.S. airlines has plans to begin such a route anytime soon. Delta said before Ota visited that it had no interest in servicing Kansai airport at present.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.