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Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport (IATA airport code: KIX) (新関西国際空港; Shin Kansai Kokusai Kūkō) is an international airport in Japan, located on a man-built island south of Osaka Bay[?].

It handles both international and domestic traffic.

It is often called Kansai Kūkō (関西空港, Kansai + Kūkō airport), or Kankū (関空).

Because Itami Airport (伊丹空港) is located in the middle of metropolitan Osaka, the noise pollution has been a social issue for years. To avoid this, the Japanese government built a new international airport for Kansai region, which opened on 4 September 1994

The airport is completely located in the ocean and far away from beach, it has sunk by 12 meter as of 2 February 2003.

It was intented to be a hub airport[?] for East Asia air traffic, but the airport has only one runway and functions poorly as a hub. There is a plan to add a new runway in the second development phase.

Building the Kansai airport

In the 1960s Kansai was losing trade to Tokyo. An airport near Osaka and Kobe was needed. Osaka airport was surrounded by buildings and could not be expanded. Neighbors were angry of noise. Tokyo Narita protests showed the degree of opposition to near-city airports in Japan. Initially, the airport was planned to be built in offshore of Kobe, but the city of Kobe refused the plan. Decision to build an airport "in the sea" was made. Located in Osaka Bay it could be open 24-hours per day. Only fishermen protested but they were silenced by hefty compensations.

Engineers faced the risk of earthquakes (worst in the world) and typhoons (sea surge of 3 meters).

A man-made island project was proposed (1 x 4 kilometers).

Construction started in 1987, the sea wall was finished in 1989 (made of rocks and 48,000 pieces of 4-pointed concrete blocks), 3 mountains were excavated for earth (21 million cubic meters of earth), 10,000 workers, 10 million workhours, 3 years, 80 ships, 30 meter layer over the sea floor (inside the sea wall), 3 km bridge built to connect the island ($1 bn, completed 1990).

By 1990, the island sunk 8 meters (far more than predicted) and the project might become the most expensive blunder in human history after 20 years of planning, 3 years of construction and several billion dollar invested.

1991 - start of the terminal construction (the longest building in the world). Island sinking was solved by adjustable-length columns on which the terminal sits. 1994 - airport opened. 1995 - survived Kobe earthquake unscathed mostly due to the use of sliding joints (20 km from the epicenter of a quake that resulted in 5000 dead). Even the glass in windows stayed intact. 1998 - survived typhoon 200 km/h. 2003: Still sinking (30 cm/year) and serious countermeasures will be needed in 5-10 years.

Total cost, $15 bn, 40% over budget (mostly due to sinking problems), still in debt ($560 million in annual interest). Second runway was planned but the present debt makes it impossible, esp. that the estimated cost is $30 bn (the second island would go even deeper into the sea). In the meantime, Tokyo's Narita expands and the economic value of Kansai is being undermined.

See also: Itami Airport, List of airports

Transportation

See also: Rinku-Town[?]

External Links



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