Japan’s US$20bn Floating Airport
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Japan’s US$20bn Floating Airport


DALLAS — Japan’s Kansai International Airport (KIX) is an engineering marvel, one of the only floating airports in the world, built near Osaka Bay. We’ll explore the world’s most expensive civil engineering project to date.

Japan, despite having plenty of environmental distress, has risen to become a key hub in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Tokyo has a population of 14 million people and is considered the most populated metropolitan region on the planet.

Consequently, the country has invested billions of dollars in its infrastructure. To date, Japan has close to 100 airports, and all of them are operated by the central and local governments of the country.

According to the latest passenger traffic, the four major airports in Japan are Haneda International Airport (HND), followed by Narita International Airport (NRT), Kansai International Airport (KIX), and Fukoma International Airport (FUK). These four airports combined handle close to 200 million passengers annually.

But why did they construct a floating airport that would sink in the future? To answer this question, we will need to go back to the time when the Japanese government and its engineers were planning to build the floating airport.

Why Japan Built a Floating Airport?

Returning to the 1960s, Japan’s Kansai province was losing business to Tokyo, so planners suggested a new airport project near Kobe and Osaka. As existing Itami Airport (ITM) can no longer be expanded due to congestion near the airport. Also, they expected the expansion cost far outweigh the cost of constructing a new airport, unless they were aware of the rapid sinking of the KIX.

Following a protest against Narita Airport (NRT) due to rural land expropriation, the planners proposed plans to build an offshore airport. The initial proposal was to build the airport near the Kobe region, but city officials refused the plans, shifting the construction to the southern part of Osaka Bay instead. The airport can stay open 24 hours a day due to its unique location.

The project got the required approvals from authorities, and it was expected to cost the government US$1bn. A new airport project was part of various new developments to rejuvenate Osaka, which had been losing financial and cultural ground to Japan’s capital city for more than a century.

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Feature Image: Kansai-International-Airport | Photo: Kansai Airports

Aircraft maintenance engineering graduate and Aviation enthusiast with more than four years of experience in running a successful aviation startup.

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