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ANA picks Naha as new air cargo hub

Date Posted: 2007-06-28

Naha International Airport will move to 24-hour operations in 2010 to accommodate a decision by All Nippon Airways to make Okinawa its Asia hub for air cargo.

All Nippon Airways envisions moving 420,000 tons of cargo annually through a Naha hub, with its planes bringing goods from mainland Japan to Naha for onward shipment to destinations throughout Asia. Naha currently handles only 2,400 tons of air cargo each year.

The airline is working with Prefecture and Naha International Airport officials to develop the new maintenance and service facilities required to handle dozens of aircraft landing and taking off from Naha each day. ANA says its planes will be arriving and departing between midnight and sunrise each day, in order for cargo to arrive at Asian destinations early in the business day.

Naha’s domestic and international operations have, to date, been primarily serving passenger needs, as well as luggage transfers. Construction of a new cargo terminal to support the new operations will begin next year, with the Prefecture providing the funding. Air cargo companies in the Prefecture say they’ll create a new company to serve the new air missions.

“This cargo business is going to promote the Japanese production business, with more going to other Asian countries,” said a government official. “Opening the airport 24 hours means it’s needed, and we’ll add customs and inspection services and the state will be offering support for shipments and incoming luggage.”

Both airline and Prefecture officials say it’s better to have a relay hub terminal in Okinawa, instead of planes flying direct to and from mainland Japan. They cite the economies of using Okinawa, and predict it will permit Japanese companies to be more economically productive and more competitive against American and European countries flying to Asia.

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