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Japan to privatise Fukuoka airport by 2019

This is the third airport to be privatised by the Japanese government, following deals for Sendai Airport and Osaka and Kansai airports in the past two years.

Japan will soon kick-start the process of privatising Fukuoka Airport, the principal airport on the island of Kyushu, said the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

It is the third airport privatisation in Japan and the largest one in terms of the annual number of passengers, the MLIT said. Fukuoka Airport, the fourth biggest airport in Japan, had its passenger traffic of approximately 21.37 million in 2015, following Tokyo’s Narita, Haneda airports and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.

The Japanese government is looking to invite private sector partners through an auction process for the rights to run the hub, including the airport, passenger terminal and car parking lots, for 30 years, with an option to extend it to up to 35 years.

The Ministry expects to publish application guidelines around May this year, and announce the preferred bidder in the following year. As the agreement is scheduled to be signed in August 2018, the concessionaire will take over the airport operating business in April 2019.

The government plans to use part of the money raised from the transaction to develop a second runway for Fukuoka Airport, scheduled to be completed by March 2025. The investment value was not disclosed in the announcement, but local reports estimate the new runway will cost about 180 billion yen ($1.63 billion; €1.52 billion).

In March 2016, Japanese financial group Orix Corporation and France’s Vinci Airports took over the operations of the Kansai and Osaka international airports which the pair will run for 44 years in a 2.2 trillion-yen transaction.

The first airport privatisation was back in September 2015 when a group led by railway operator Tokyu Corporation and contractor Maeda Corporation won the bid to run the Sendai Airport in northern Japan for a period of 30 years.