Privatisation of Japan's Shizuoka Airport kicks off

The region of Shizuoka is looking to sell the hub's operating rights with a concession period that could run for up to 45 years.

Fuji Shizuoka Airport Company, the state-owned operator of Shizuoka Airport, has called for expressions of interest in the operational rights of the regional hub. 

The proposed concession is set for 20 years, with an option to extend it to up to 45 years.   

Located in Shizuoka prefecture, Shizuoka Airport is about 175km west of Tokyo. The hub, which serves as an alternative gateway to the Japanese capital, has domestic services to Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Naha in Okinawa and Sapporo in Hokkaido. International routes connects it to nine cities on mainland China, as well as Taipei and Seoul. 

The operator hopes the privatisation will help expand the airport's operations, enhance its efficiency and improve user experience. Local and international entities are eligible to participate in the bidding process. 

The submission deadline of interest statements is set on 16 June, followed by further document submissions in the coming months. The preferred bidder will be announced by March 2018 and the takeover is expected to follow in 2019. 

In March, a consortium formed of US-based Orix and France's Vinci took over the operations of two international airports in Osaka, which it will run for 44 years. The concessionaire won the rights last November in exchange for JPY2.2 trillion ($20 billion; €18 billion) paid to the Japanese government. Financial close on the deal was reached two months ago with a package of project finance loans worth JPY190 billion from a Mizuho Bank-led group. 

The Japanese government revised its private financing initiatives in 2011 to allow private sector to invest in airports and other public facilities. Around 15 state-owned airports have been included in the privatisation scheme, including Sendai Airport and the two Osaka airports.