Tokyo gets third airport

Skymark, Asiana to christen first flights at ASDF-linked facility in Ibaraki

MITO, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Ibaraki Airport held an opening ceremony Sunday ahead of what will be the operational launch Wednesday of the Tokyo metropolitan area’s third airport after Haneda and Narita.

The airport, Japan’s 98th, was built at the Air Self-Defense Force’s Hyakuri base in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture, about 80 km northeast of the capital.

“We hope this will contribute to regional development . . . and attract the interest of discount carriers,” Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto told a crowd of some 500 people including local government and business leaders and aviation industry representatives.

The air base facilities were redeveloped to be shared by the ASDF and commercial airlines with the addition of a second 2,700-meter runway.

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines will offer daily round-trip service between Ibaraki and Incheon starting Wednesday, and two to three flights a week from Busan several months later.

Domestic budget carrier Skymark Airlines is scheduled to start daily round-trip service between Kobe and Ibaraki from April 16.

The airport is farther from downtown Tokyo than Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, which is about 50 km east of the capital’s center, but will be less congested and offer relatively lower usage costs, its operator said.

A prefectural public corporation managing the airport terminal building expects to see a loss of ¥20 million in the initial year of operation.