More aid for Kansai airport?

Kyodo News

The transport ministry plans to insert a bailout plan for loss-making Kansai International Airport into its budget request for fiscal 2010.

The costly international airport, built in 1994 on reclaimed land, is still struggling from its heavy debts and a decline in traffic, ministry sources said.

The government has been disbursing ¥9 billion a year to help the airport deal with its ¥1.1 trillion or so in interest-bearing debt, but the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will attempt to increase that sum by several billion yen in fiscal 2010 starting in April, the sources said.

The move follows a call from local government chiefs in February to “rectify” the high cost structure of the airport near Osaka, such as by reducing its annual interest burdens of ¥20 billion.

If the amount of the airport bailout and its financing sources are not worked out by the Finance Ministry’s Aug. 31 deadline for initial budget requests, the envisaged request for Kansai airport will be made without any details, the sources said.

The land ministry is considering using proceeds from its sale of shares in Narita International Airport Corp., which aims to go public in fiscal 2010, as an option for financing the Kansai airport bailout, they said.

More cargo flights

OSAKA (Kyodo) Major Japanese companies want an increase in cargo flights between Kansai International Airport and cities in North America and Europe, a research group said in a survey report Friday.

In the survey, 125 of the 156 respondents called for increasing cargo flights between the airport in Osaka Prefecture and North American cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, according to the group, whose members come from industry, government and academic circles.