Air Transport World

An airport for the global economy: the new Central Japan International Airport will offer international airlines direct access into Japan's industrial heartland.(Airports)

The Central Region of Japan encompasses the industrial heartland of the world's second-largest economy. Anchored by Nagoya, the nation's fourth-largest city, located approximately 230 mi. southwest of Tokyo, the region is home to more than 20 million residents and several of Japan's corporate powerhouses, including Toyota Motor Corp., Brother, Epson, Daido Steel, Yamaha and Suzuki. Other companies with manufacturing facilities in the region include Honda, Sharp, Sanyo and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Given this industrial base, it is not surprising that the Central Region accounts for nearly 30% of all product shipments in Japan and on a standalone basis would rank as the world's seventh-largest economy in terms of GDP--ahead of Canada, Mexico, Spain and South Korea.

Yet there is one thing it lacks: A world-class airport capable of becoming the transportation hub for corporate travelers and high-value cargo. Nagoya Komald Airport, which handled 10.5 million passengers in 2002, the last year for which data are available, has a 2100-0700 curfew and its sole runway is just 2,740 m. long, making it unsuitable for many international long-haul flights. Because the airport is sited in a densely packed urban area, expansion is impossible.

Lack of sufficient capacity and capability translates into a loss of economic activity: Some 40% of international travelers departing the region use Tokyo Narita or Osaka Kansai rather than their home airport. The disparity is even greater in terms of air cargo: 85% of international exports produced in the Central Region exit Japan via Narita or Kansai while only 25% of imports destined for the region come through Nagoya. …

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