Japanese team to run Palau airport in debut overseas deal

Sojitz and Japan Airport Terminal agree $32m contract to help local government operate and expand the sole international airport on the South Pacific island country.

Sojitz Corporation and Japan Airport Terminal have set up a joint venture to manage the operations of Palau International Airport for 20 years, in partnership with the local government. 

This is the first time the two Japanese companies have joined together for an overseas airport deal, Sojitz said. The firms have formed The Palau International Airport Corporation for the venture, with each taking an equal split. 

The total costs of the project are estimated at 3.5 billion yen ($32 million; €27 million), which will include the consortium taking a 51 percent stake in the airport – the sole international hub in the island country. Under a PPP model, the Palau government will retain a 49 percent interest. 

The costs include refurbishment and expansion of its existing international terminal, as well as administration and maintenance. Once the government completes its “in-kind investment” and project handover, the operations and remodelling/expansion work will begin in the second quarter of next year. 

Tourism has boomed in recent years and has become a core industry for Palau, which has a population of more than 21,000. Approximately 280,000 foreign passengers used the airport in 2016. 

Sojitz and JAT aim to provide their industry knowledge to reduce congestion and improve services at the airport. 

Sojitz is currently involved in the reconstruction of Russia’s Khabarovsk airport, in addition to its aircraft sales business, while Japan Airport Terminal runs the passenger terminal of Tokyo’s Haneda airport.