Four groups bid for rights to run seven Hokkaido airports for three decades

JIJI

Four consortia have submitted bids for a bundle of rights to operate New Chitose Airport and six other airfields in Hokkaido, informed sources say.

One of the candidates is believed to be a group made up of Hokkaido Airport Terminal Co. and more than 10 partners including Mitsubishi Estate Co., railway Tokyu Corp. and the government-affiliated Development Bank of Japan.

Leasing giant Orix Corp. is teaming up with France’s Vinci Airports, while a group involving Tobu Railway Co., Aeroports de Paris and the operator of Singapore’s Changi Airport are making bids, the sources said Friday.

The Orix-Vinci pair operates three major airports in the Kansai region, including Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture. The Tobu Railway group runs a hotel and a golf course in Hokkaido.

Each of the airports involved is owned by the government or local authorities.

New Chitose is financially stable, since it is heavily used by business travelers and tourists, but the rest, which serve Wakkanai, Kushiro, Hakodate, Asahikawa, Obihiro and Memanbetsu, are in the red.

The governments involved will commission the winner to conduct operations, including management of commercial and parking facilities and runway maintenance, at all seven airports for 30 years starting from 2020.

The winner is expected to aim for expanding earnings at the facilities partly by attracting more tourists from abroad.

The first round of bidding opened this spring and closed Thursday. Up to three bidders will be selected around next month to advance to the next stage, and one will be granted preferential negotiating rights next summer.