Second Naha airport runway moves to construction
Talk of the need for Naha International Airport to expand with a second runway is over; full scale construction of the new 2,700-meter runway is set to begin this month.
Land reclamation comes first, creating the artificial island necessary for the runway to be completed in December 2019 and open for business in March 2020. The ¥199.3 billion project is being funded by the central government by direction of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last fall. Formal approval by Okinawa Prefecture and the Naha Port authority came two weeks ago after all parties, including local fishermen’s cooperatives, gave their blessings. Okinawa Prefecture Government has asked Tokyo to provide results of aircraft noise surveys, and to assist with local coordination with municipalities for post-construction operations.
The currently allotted budget is ¥13.7 billion, with Tokyo paying ¥13 billion. The coming fiscal year budget for runway construction is ¥34.7 billion, of which the central government will foot ¥33 billion.
The Okinawa General Bureau says everything is on track. It completed a fisheries compensation contract with the Naha Coastal Fisheries Cooperative and four other associations Jan. 9th. Environmental assessments were completed and approved last June. Plans for transplanting seagrass beds and coral have already been developed.
The new runway is expected to boost Naha International Airport’s capability to handle another 20 million tourists per year. Says the Director of Development Construction at the Okinawa General Bureau, Koji Kohirata, “We want to complete this in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
The 2,700-meter-long runway will be 60 meters wide, 300 meters shorter than the current Naha International Airport runway. Naha currently services more than 14.8 million domestic travelers and 600,000 international passengers each year. There are now more than 145 daily flights at Naha International Airport, as well as 60 international flights each week and another 60 cargo flights.
Naha International Airport expansion has been continuous, with a new domestic terminal opening in 2000, and a dedicated Low Cost Carriers terminal in October 2012. The new International Terminal opens February 17th. Peach Airlines has set Naha as its second hub to move passengers between mainland Japan and southeast Asia.
All Nippon Airways opened a cargo terminal hub here several years ago, and operates services linking Japanese cities with other major Asian destinations each night, providing services for next-day deliveries.