Japan awards 30-year concession for Fukuoka Airport

Singapore’s Changi Airports is part of the winning consortium, making it the second foreign investor to participate in Japan’s privatisation programme after France’s Vinci Airports took over three hubs in the past two years.

A consortium led by Fukuoka Airport Holding, the existing operating entity of the airport in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, has won the right to operate Fukuoka Airport under a 30-year concession, alongside Singapore’s Changi Airports, Nishi-Nippon Railroad, Mitsubishi Corporation and Kyushu Electric Power.

The Singaporean airport operator is the second foreign entity to invest in the country’s airport sector, since France’s Vinci Airports won the operation rights of three airports in partnership with local entity Orix Corporation in two previous privatisations since 2016.

Under the terms of the contract, the consortium, dubbed Fukuoka Airport HD Group, will be responsible for revitalising the airport and its surrounding areas to become a key transport hub in the region for long-term trade and business development, according to a statement. The scope of business includes operation of the airport, passenger terminal and parking facilities.

Changi noted that the team will leverage the Fukuoka Airport’s city centre location as well as its geographical proximity to East and Southeast Asia.

After signing a basic agreement on Tuesday with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the consortium is preparing the launch of a special purpose company for the concession and execution of a subsequent project agreement, aiming to commence operations on 1 April, 2019. The concession could be extended an additional five years.

A spokesman for the ministry declined to disclose the contract value but told Infrastructure Investor more details regarding the screening process will be released in due course. A spokeswoman from Changi Airports International Ngee Muoy See said they are unable to share further details on the concession, while Fukuoka Airport Holding had not responded to queries seeking further comments by press time.

Fukuoka Airport was the fourth busiest airport in Japan, following Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport, Narita International Airport and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport according to MLIT’s 2015 statistics. Vinci Airports and Orix have been operating Kansai and Osaka international airports since winning the 2.2 trillion-yen ($20 billion; €17.2 billion) concession in 2016. Last July, they were awarded a 42-year concession for Kobe Airport.

MLIT is currently in the process of privatising seven airports in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, as well as Kumamoto Airport in Kyushu and Hiroshima Airport on Honshu, the central main island.