happy birthday kansai airport
On Thursday, Osaka's Kansai International Airport celebrated its 14th birthday.
Built on an artificial island, the airport features a stylish terminal with space-age design. Japan is tight for space at the best of times so what better idea than to build a new airport in the sea - or at least, on land dumped in the sea.
Construction workers systematically dismantled Ishizuchi-san, formerly the highest mountain in western Japan, although after the land had been taken for the airport, it became the third highest. The bits of mountain were transported from Shiikoku to the new site, across the water from Awaji Island.
However, the airport is not without its problems......
- THAT SINKING FEELING
Meanwhile, on bad days, water continues to slew onto the runway, and about three times a year it goes so far as the terminal building, with passengers having to push their trolley carts through an inch of water.
The main terminal building has already sunk a whopping 12 metres. Independent analysts say that if it continues to sink at its current rate, then by the year 2025 it will be completely submerged - a bit of a nuisance for those who can't swim.
Here's a recent photo I took of a jet as it taxied to the main arrivals terminal...
Kansai Airport. Once hailed as the great floating airport. Now known as the not-so-great sinking one.
- CROWDED AIRSPACE
Along with Kobe Airport, there are numerous others in the region. Critics are asking how many airports the country can sustain.
On top of that, there are safety fears, with so many planes taking off and landing in such close proximity.
The map below gives an indication of just how serious a problem it is....
Airports in and around Osaka. By 2050 it is believed there will be one airport per 75 residents.
- NO PLANES
It's so under-used that on approach to landing, pilots now have the luxury of choosing which runway to land on, depending on how they're feeling that day.
The main reason for its lack of use is the extortionate landing fees. For the biggest jets, airlines have to pay around GB£4000 (US$8000), a fee so high that some airlines have taken extreme measures to cover their losses....
A passenger nearly chokes on his food as a flight attendant demands cash in order to disembark.
Let's hope Kansai Airport can turn around its fortunes in the next 14 years to become Japan's most successful place for planes. Happy birthday Kansai Airport!