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Kansai International Airport

The departures hall at Kansai Airport, as viewed from the fourth floor ticketing area. Note the distinctive airfoil-shaped roof, designed by Renzo Piano.

Kansai International Airport (関西国際空港; Kansai Kokusai Kūkō, IATA airport code KIX) is an international airport located on a man-made island in Osaka Bay, south of Osaka, Japan. It opened on September 4, 1994.

Domestic airlines have maintained the majority of their operations at the old Osaka International Airport (大阪国際空港), or Itami Airport (伊丹空港), which is more conveniently located in respect to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe.

Kansai International Airport has a single four-story terminal, which is the world's longest building. A sophisticated people mover system moves passengers from one end of the mile-long pier to the other.

In the Kansai dialect, Kansai Airport is often called Kankū (関空).

Table of contents
1 International Carriers
2 Domestic Carriers
3 Cargo Carriers
4 History
5 Outlook
6 Ground Transportation
7 External Links

International Carriers

International arrivals go to immigration and baggage claim on the first floor. International departures are ticketed on the fourth floor and board from the third floor.

Domestic Carriers

Arrivals, departures, ticketing, and baggage claim are all on the second floor.

Cargo Carriers


In the 1960s, when the Kansai region was rapidly losing trade to Tokyo, planners proposed a new airport near Osaka and Kobe. Osaka International Airport, located in the densely-populated suburbs of Itami and Toyonaka, was surrounded by buildings: it could not be expanded, and many of its neighbors had filed complaints because of noise pollution problems.

After the protests surrounding New Tokyo International Airport, which was built with confiscated land in a rural part of Chiba prefecture, planners decided to build the airport offshore. Initially, the airport was planned to be built near Kobe, but the city of Kobe refused the plan, so the airport was moved to a more southerly location on Osaka Bay. There, it could be open 24 hours per day, unlike its predecessor in the city. Local fishermen were the only group to protest, but they were silenced by hefty compensation packages.

A man-made island, 4 km long and 1 km wide, was proposed. Engineers faced the risk of earthquakes (very high) and typhoons (with storm surges of up to 3 meters).

Construction started in 1987. The sea wall was finished in 1989 (made of rocks and 48,000 tetrahedral concrete blocks). Three mountains were excavated for 21 million cubic meters of landfill. 10,000 workers and 10 million work hours over 3 years, using 80 ships, were needed to complete the thirty-meter layer of earth over the sea floor and inside the sea wall. In 1990, a three-kilometer bridge was completed to connect the island to the mainland at Rinku-Town, at a cost of $1 billion.

By then, the island had sunk 8 meters (far more than predicted) and the project became the most expensive civil works project in modern history after 20 years of planning, 3 years of construction and several billion dollars of investment.

In 1991, the terminal construction commenced. To compensate for the sinking of the island, adjustable columns were designed to support the terminal building. These could be extended by inserting thick metal plates at their base.

The airport opened in 1994.

In 1995, Kansai Airport was struck by the Kobe earthquake, which was centered just 20 km away and killed 5,000 people on the mainland. The airport, however, emerged unscathed, mostly due to the use of sliding joints in its construction. Even the glass in the windows stayed intact. Later, in 1998, the airport survived a typhoon with wind speeds of up to 200 km/h.


The total cost of Kansai Airport so far is $15 billion, which is 40% over budget (mostly due to the sinking problem). The airport is still deeply in debt, losing $560 million in interest every year. Airlines have been kept away by high landing fees (approximately $7500 for a Boeing 747), the second most expensive in the world after Narita's, even after deep discounts that attempted to lure airlines back to KIX.

The rate of sinking has slowed down markedly in recent years (just 17 cm in 2002). In 2003, believing that the sinking problem was almost over, the airport operators started the construction of a second runway, with an estimated project cost of $30 billion. However, traffic to the airport remains far below the 160,000 annual movements needed to exhaust the capacity of the existing runway, and the future opening of Kobe Airport may further dilute KIX's intra-Japan traffic.

Ground Transportation

External Links