Chubu International Airport of central Japan, commonly known as Centrair, has become the third international airport of the country to get a terminal for exclusive use by Low-Cost Carriers (LCC). With the increasing number of tourists travelling overseas, LCCs with cheap air ticket offers are getting more popular these days. LCCs are doing brisk business in Asia as more Chinese tourists are taking the opportunity of cheaper flights to visit neighboring countries. The result of such an influx in regional tourism has been reflected in the emergence of new type of airliners that are catering for travelers reluctant to pay normal airfares that many find beyond their means. In addition, travelling within the country also are becoming easier and cheaper with the emergence of budget airliners in aviation business. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines as well as India, where the vast expanse of territorial borders made it difficult travelling to distant locations, budget airliners are already making domestic journeys easier and cheaper. As a result, a number of Asian countries have already seen the emergence of new carriers providing cheaper services within the country and beyond. Sensing the possibilities of new business opportunity, conventional airline companies too have started joining the rank with their own low cost brands. Peach Air, the LCC version of Japan’s All Nippon Airlines (ANA), has already become operational and Japan Airlines (JAL) too has disclosed company’s desire to have its own brand of low cost airliner, which JAL says will start operating by the summer of 2020. The target date has been set keeping in mind the opening of Tokyo Olympic Games in July next year.
With the increasing number of carriers joining the LCC market, the existing airports in Asian cities are facing serious problems related to the handling of aircraft movement and passengers. To address the emerging issues related to the massive increase of budget airlines flight numbers, Narita airport became first in Japan to open a new terminal dedicated exclusively to LCC airliners. Terminal 3 of the airport was completed in April 2015 and it now handles 7.5 million passengers and 50,000 aircraft movement a year. Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture followed the example of Narita and with the opening of Terminal 2 at the Centrair located closer to Nagoya City, all three major international airports of Japan are now capable of offering budget airliners lower airport cost and shorter turnaround time, two important components for LCC business model. The new terminal of Chubu International Airport, consisting of a couple of two-story buildings with a total floor area of 45,000 square meters, has been built to handle 4.5 million passengers a year. Construction of the new terminal started in May 2018 and was completed last July. The terminal went into operational from last Friday and Centrair is now looking forward to increasing number of overseas tourists using the airport. With this in mind, the Central Japan Airport Company, the operating authority of the airport is also expanding the scope of other services they are providing. A new exhibition center with usable floor space of 60,000 square meters has directly been linked to terminal buildings that the company feels would provide easy access to foreign participants attending events held at the center.
Japan’s Aichi prefecture is well known for being the headquarters and main production facilities of Toyota motorcars. However, what is less known is Aichi’s link to aircraft manufacturing industry. Boeing’s sought after new passenger carrier model 787, which is commonly known as Dream Liner, is assembled at the company’s plant in Seattle. However, 35 percent of 787, including wings and part of the fuselage, are produced in Aichi and airlifted to Seattle assembly lines. A special cargo airplane with an inflated belly shuttles regularly between Nagoya and Seattle carrying those huge parts to the assembly lines. These gigantic cargo aircrafts are known as Dream Lifters and during a recent visit to the airport one was seen waiting at the runway for the arrival of cargo. In recognition to the service provided by Aichi Prefecture in the production of Dream Liners, Boeing has presented the very first aircraft of that model to Centrair for display at the airport. The aircraft with the serial number of ZA001 is no longer in service and it has been placed at the terminal building as a display item for general public. The area where it is located is named Seattle Terrace where visitors can enjoy authentic Seattle-style dining and shopping.
The number of air passengers using Centrair International Airport has been increasing continuously and reached a record high in 2018 fiscal year when more than 12.3 million passengers used the airport. The number of international flight passengers increased by 10% from the previous year, while the number of domestic flight passengers increased by 5%. Inbound tourists mainly from China and Southeast Asian countries increased significantly, resulting in more flights by LCC carriers. The airport has been built in a reclaimed island and terminal 1 is designed to handle 70 million passengers a year. Central Japan Airport Company is hoping that expansion of the airport will lead to a significant increase of flights and passengers.
With the expectation of increasing number of LCC flights, the second terminal went into service on September 20. The new terminal building is designed to offer convenience and functionality, and also to attract more visitors. While the building has a simple, functional structure; cutting-edge systems have been introduced to deliver fast travel and smart security and outstanding convenience. The construction cost for the new terminal building is half of the amounts spend for building terminal 1 and focus of attention of the new terminal building was more on convenience of air travelers with quicker services, as well as lowering the airport charge that budget airliners look for. Self check-in and baggage handling systems are designed to shorten the time travelers are to spare for such formalities. Airport charge for the new terminal is roughly half of terminal 1.
Being a low cost air terminal providing services to low cost airliners, the terminal building has to give up some of the convenience that air passengers take for granted while using conventional air terminals. The direct bridge connection to aircrafts is not provided at the new terminal and passengers are to take a short walk for boarding the airplane. However, this has been compensated by new innovative ideas put into practice. While taking a long walk to designated gates, passengers can enjoy various digital displays; including how much calories they had burned by walking up to the point. Five airline companies including Air Asia Japan and Jetstar Japan co. are currently using the new terminal with a total 143 flights a week. The operating company is hopeful that the number will continue increasing as Japan is attracting more Asian tourists from countries with large population.
(Tokyo, September 22, 2019)