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How should airport realignment be planned?

Public involvement is persuasive no matter what the result is.

In the course of the plan-making for the redevelopment of Fukuoka Airport during the 2000s, public involvement system was introduced. That ensure transparency and achieve accountability and reflect the opinions of the local communities. And local communities had opportunities to know about the project, express their views.

Realignment of Fukuoka Airport

Fukuoka Airport is a very convenient airport. It is very close to the city center, and it is one of the principal airports in Japan, handling both domestic and international flights. This airport had aircraft movements of 180 thousand times, managed nearly 25 million passengers in 2018, and ranked as the fourth busiest airport in Japan.

As Fukuoka City’s importance grew as the center of business in Kyushu Island and the Asian gateway, the demand for the flights to the airport by both the airlines and passengers increased. And it brought concerns about the future capacity of the airport in the late 1990s. In 1999, the airport had aircraft movements of 135 thousand times and 19 million passengers, and the redevelopment of this airport had become an urgent task for both Fukuoka City and Fukuoka Prefectural Government. However, the characteristic of being in urban areas hindered further expansion, such as adding the second runway. Several plans had been discussed, such as relocation of the airport to one of the coastal areas near the city or realignment using existing space. In this plan-making process, the public involvement system was introduced to ensure transparency and achieve accountability and reflect the opinions of the local communities.

The public involvement for this project took place from 2005 to 2009 and had four phases—recognition of the current situation, future prediction, proposal, and directionality. In the public participation, the local communities can learn and understand the project in-depth through various information means, such as the website, information desk, exhibits, briefing sessions, study tours, and open house. And it provided the public a chance to discuss the issues with the concerned state or local government, the experts, and business operators on occasions such as round-table discussions and social gatherings. In total, over 40,000 people participated, and 43,400 opinions were shared.

After the evaluation of the cost efficiency, duration, user convenience, safety, and environmental effect, realignment using existing space was selected, and the work started in 2009. This project was to set back the existing facilities such as domestic terminal and cargo buildings and to add the second runway of 2500 meters to the west of the present 2800-meter runway and a parallel taxiway, which will enable maximum aircraft movements of 196 thousand times per year. There has been no remarkable protest against this project.

The parallel taxiway, as well as the new domestic terminal area, was completed in January 2020. The extended retail and a plane observation deck above the bus lounge will be ready in the summer of 2020. And the second runway will be in service in the fiscal year of 2024.

To fund the planned redevelopment project and also to accelerate further development of the airport and its adjacent areas, the operation of Fukuoka Airport was privatized under a concession system in 2019. The airport is expected to develop further with the prosperity of Fukuoka City, serving as the Asian gateway.

[Case ID: Urban Transportation UT-09]


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