75% Of Japan’s Big Airports In The Red In FY05: Survey

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Three in four major Japanese airports operated at a loss in fiscal 2005, even when depreciation charges were excluded, the Aviation Policy Research Association reported Friday.



The independent group, made up largely of academics, said 31 of the 41 biggest airports were in the red. At 7.3 billion yen, Fukuoka Airport’s loss was the largest. Lumped together, the 41 had a loss of 35.4 billion yen.



The survey excluded Narita airport, Kansai airport and Central Japan International Airport, which operate as joint-stock companies; Komatsu airport and others run in cooperation with the Self-Defense Forces; and airports on outlying islands. Financial information from fiscal 2006 was used for two airports. Japan has 97 airports in all.



Ten airports were in the black when depreciation charges were ignored. Haneda airport brought in 12.7 billion yen, Osaka’s Itami airport 10.1 billion yen, and Hokkaido’s New Chitose airport 4.2 billion yen. The rest earned profits of 1 billion yen or less.



When depreciation costs were factored in, only three airports — Kobe, Itami and New Chitose — were profitable, with Haneda swinging to a 13.7 billion yen loss stemming largely from the construction of a new runway.



The association reckons that an airport operated by the central government needs about 2.8 million passengers a year to make a profit, while a locally operated airport requires around 1.9 million.



The group says the survey was the first of its scale. It has urged airports to publish financial data and take other steps to improve management transparency. Continued airport losses threaten to put further strain on Japan’s already-struggling local governments.



(The Nikkei May 30 morning edition)

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