• Kyodo

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Kansai International Airport is urgently making efforts to improve its services amid the recent sharp increase in foreign tourists coming to Japan.

It aims to boost convenience with 24-hour limousine bus operations and more space for travelers who need to rest. Currently, an increasing number of tourists who arrive at the airport around midnight and in the early morning hours are forced to wait for the first trains of the day or sleep overnight in one of the airport’s terminals.

According to New Kansai International Airport Co., the operator of the airport, the number of international flight passengers reached a record 13.52 million in fiscal 2014. Of that total, foreign tourists numbered 6.99 million, 41 percent more than the previous year and surpassing that of Japanese tourists for the first time since the airport opened in 1994.

The lack of ground transportation compels 200 to 300 tourists a day to stay overnight at the airport so they can catch an early morning flight on a low-cost carrier, and about 70 percent of them are from abroad.

There are taxi services, but the last limousine bus to the city of Osaka runs at 1:45 a.m., while the first of the day doesn’t depart until 5 a.m.

Meanwhile, the trains don’t run between 11:40 p.m. and 5:45 a.m.

People staying over at the airport’s first terminal occupy some 1,300 seats, and there are often lines to use lounges with shower rooms that charge a fee.

The airport operator is considering ways to improve the situation. It plans to add about 200 seats for resting and sleeping in a 550-sq.-meter area and increase the number of pay showers.

It will ask limousine companies to start running a bus an hour to the city of Osaka from midnight through early morning, hopefully starting by this summer.

Also, the information counter at the arrival lobby for international flights, which currently is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., will be open around the clock.

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