January 10, 2014 2:56 am JST

Japan to cut landing fees at regional airports

YUTA SAITO, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will introduce discounts on airport landing fees in outlying cities, part of efforts to shore up regional air transport networks and help boost local economies.

     The program will provide a three-year discount on landing fees, with the initiative to cover new routes as well as additional flights on existing services.

     To take advantage of the program, a carrier will have to compile a joint proposal with local authorities on measures to boost passenger traffic. Airports in Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka are potential venues. The host airport will likely have to be open to selling off its facility operating rights to a private-sector entity.

     The Transport Ministry will set detailed criteria for qualifying services by the end of March, heeding the advice of an expert panel. Applications will likely be accepted starting in April.

     The program is mainly intended for domestic flights, but the government is willing to accept proposals for international flights as well.

     The three-year discount will come in phases -- an 80% reduction the first year, 50% the second, and culminating in a 30% cut. At Sendai airport, for example, the current landing fee for a Boeing 737 jet is about 55,000 yen ($519). The fee would come to 11,000 yen the first year, 27,000 yen the following year, and finally to 38,000 yen.

     If an airline adds a flight under this program, the total savings over the three years would total some 34 million yen.

     Lower landing fees not only encourage airlines to enhance regional services, but also be beneficial for local residents and tourists visiting the area, giving a boost to local economies.

 

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