Japanese financial services group Orix, France’s airport operator Groupe ADP and state-owned Development Bank of Japan have been shortlisted by the Japanese government for the right to operate seven airports in Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost island, sources familiar with the process told Infrastructure Investor.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism has invited the three companies, which are members of three competing consortia, to submit final bids for a 30 year-concession, with a view to announcing a winning bidder in July 2019.
The bundle of airports includes Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido’s major international gateway that in 2016 handled more than 21 million passengers, as well as six smaller facilities, including three local airports currently subsidised by their respective municipalities.
“The applicants are to propose the amount of subsidies that may be reduced for each of the three airports,” according to the official implementation guidelines MLIT published in April, in reference to Obihiro, Asahikawa and Memanbetsu airports. The other three regional airports are Hakodate, Wakkanai and Kushiro.
Two sources who spoke to Infrastructure Investor also stressed that bidders must include a comprehensive plan for the overall development of Hokkaido, a component MLIT also stresses in its implementation guidelines, as the government hopes to boost the island’s tourism sector.
While the number of foreign guests visiting Hokkaido jumped from 1.5 million in 2011 to more than seven million in 2017, according to official data, the island still lags more popular tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto.
The composition of the three consortia remains unknown. Orix, Groupe ADP and DBJ, as well as MLIT declined to provide further details.
In June, the Japanese government awarded the operation of the Fukuoka Airport to a consortium that included Singapore’s Changi Airport. It is currently in the process of privatising Kumamoto Airport on Kyushu Island; and Hiroshima Airport, on the western part of Honshu, the country’s main island.
(Image: 欅 (Keyaki) / Wikipedia)