TOKYO, 10 March 2017: Japan needs to initiate improvements to its airport infrastructure, especially in Tokyo ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics, International Air Transport Association’s CEO stated in presentation earlier this week in Tokyo
Japan has set aggressive targets for attracting international tourist arrivals. In 2016 Japan welcomed some 24 million international tourists.
In the 2020 Olympic year, Japan hopes to welcome 40 million visitors, who are expected to spend some USD70 billion (JPY 8.0 trillion).
However, IATA warned the country needs to improve airport infrastructure urgently and should consult with the various sectors of the airline industry to deliver “joined thinking”.
Successful infrastructure planning will play a key role in the continued growth of tourism in Japan, IATA said.
It noted that the development of Tokyo-Haneda’s international network, the privatisation of Sendai and Osaka’s Kansai and Itami Airports; and continuous efforts to improve competitiveness by reducing costs and optimise infrastructure were are welcome developments.
“Not that long ago Japanese airports were the most expensive in the world. They are not cheap today, but Kansai and Narita have dropped from among the 10 most expensive to 13th, and 23rd, respectively,” said IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, in a speech delivered Thursday to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
“We are moving in the right direction, but there is still more to be done — particularly at Haneda which is bucking the positive trend by raising charges.”
IATA is calling for economic regulation of airports to ensure that there is a proper balance of public and commercial interests when charges are set. As critical national infrastructure, airports must play a role in building national competitiveness. However, as monopoly service providers there is not always the incentive to do so.
“It’s a real issue for airlines. To be successful in a highly competitive environment, airlines have restructured and improved the efficiency of their operations. Doing so has allowed them to improve profitability even as average airfares fell by 45% since 2000. Over the same period, on a global basis airport costs have risen by some 29%,” said de Juniac.
Along with being competitive and affordable, airports must also be efficient and provide sufficient capacity to meet market demands.
In preparation for this growth, IATA urged a comprehensive plan for the development of a more competitive Japanese air transport infrastructure.
In January Japan’s first Smart Security implementation became operational at Kansai International Airport. It is delivering a better passenger experience along with more effective security.
With Smart Security implementation assessments having been completed at Narita, de Juniac encouraged Japan to become a model for Smart Security implementation in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
To maximise terminal efficiency in advance of the Olympic Games, IATA urged Japan’s airports to prioritise enabling international travellers to take advantage of mobile boarding passes, kiosks and home-printed bag tags.
“The Olympics are an important milestone and an impetus to get things done. But it must be part of a long-term joined-up planning process focused on the big prize of welcoming 60 million visitors to Japan annually —and keeping Japanese businesses and people efficiently linked to the world,” said de Junaic.