OSAKA (Kyodo) Kansai International Airport Co. hopes to drum up more business by offering a new landing fee discount for domestic flights of up to 94 percent, aviation sources said Wednesday.

The new discount is aimed at making flight connections between domestic and international flights at the offshore airport in Osaka Bay more convenient and at attracting more airlines because the airport is expected to face competition from Central Japan International Airport, which opens next month in Aichi Prefecture, and Kobe Airport, which opens in 2006 in Hyogo Prefecture, the sources said.

The discount could come into effect as early as April, they said.

The landing fees for a jumbo jet at Kansai airport cost about 800,000 yen per flight. Narita airport outside Tokyo charges about 950,000 yen, the highest in the world. Most major international airports overseas charge the equivalent of between 200,000 yen and 500,000 yen.

Under the new system, the airport operator will cut landing fees by 50 percent for a new domestic air route to and from Kansai airport during the first fiscal year and offer additional 1 percent discounts every time a new flight goes into service, transport ministry officials said.

At the same time, airlines can use the current discount system, which offers a landing fee reduction of up to 40 percent to flights using Kansai airport instead of Itami airport, a domestic hub closer to downtown Osaka.

Skymark Airlines, which plans to debut four new flights between Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Kansai airport, will be eligible for a 94 percent discount.

Japan Airlines plans to shift six flights and All Nippon Airways will shift four from Itami to Kansai airport, officials of the nation’s top two airlines said.

Kansai airport has experienced slumping demand for domestic flights because of Itami’s closer proximity to to the center of Osaka.

Kansai airport opened in 1994, promoting the advantages of its connections between domestic and international flights. But air traffic at the airport has decreased since 2001. It recorded about 31,400 domestic departures and arrivals in 2004 — the first time the figure fell below 40,000.

Last year, the government gave the green light to building a second runway at Kansai airport and making it operational in 2007.

Under an agreement between the transport and finance ministers at the time of the decision on the second runway, Kansai airport is required to increase its annual domestic and international air traffic to about 130,000 departures and arrivals. The number of departures and arrivals in the year through last March was about 100,000.

The airport operator has therefore been required to increase domestic flights in order to avoid criticism about building the new runway.

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