Chubu airport to build two new runways to increase capacity by 60%

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Chubu Centrair International Airport in March 2020

Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya plans to build two new runways, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura announced Monday. This will increase its annual landing and takeoff capacity to 250,000 from the current 150,000, according to sources.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry and the Aichi prefectural government are working together on the plan. Chubu Centrair is the only international airport in Japan’s three major metropolitan areas with just one runway, and it intends to boost its operational capacity to prepare for a recovery in demand after the pandemic.

The airport opened in 2005 in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, and its aging runway will need major renovations in the future. Relevant authorities have been discussing how to deal with the situation, as all takeoff and landing operations on that runway would be suspended while the work was being done.

The authorities originally planned to reclaim the west side of the airport island and build a new runway there.

Under the latest expansion plan, Chubu Centrair will first build a 3,290-meter runway that stretches from north to south, to the east of the existing runway, as early as 2027. The total construction cost is expected to be about ¥15 billion. After that, operation of the existing runway will be suspended and major repairs carried out. When both are ready, the new runway will be used exclusively for takeoffs and the repaired runway just for landings, boosting Chubu Centrair’s capacity by up to 20%. Procedures for the construction could start early next year.

Land reclamation work on the west side of the island is expected to be finished around 2037. Once that is completed, a 3,500-meter third runway will be constructed on the west side of the airport in line with the original plan, to handle future growth in demand.

When the third runway is activated, the current runway will be shut down.

Ultimately, the total capacity of the airport is expected to be 1.6 times the current level. Reclamation work will start within fiscal 2021.

Among Japan’s major airports, Haneda has four runways, while Narita, Kansai, Itami (Osaka), New Chitose (Sapporo) and Naha (Okinawa) have two each. Narita will get a third runway in 2029, and Fukuoka a second in 2025, to prepare for demand resulting from an increase in foreign tourists.

The Chubu area was deemed not to have enough runways, considering the airport is located near the metropolitan area centered around Nagoya.

Although demand for air travel is currently sluggish due to the pandemic, a rapid recovery is expected after the situation is brought under control. The International Air Transport Association, a group of the world’s airlines, said in May that global air passenger demand was expected to surpass pre-pandemic 2019 levels in 2023 and return to a growth track.