ANA asks the OPG to build a maintenance base at Naha Airport

February 16, 2012 Teppei Ikeda of Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 15, All Nippon Airways (ANA) asked the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) to build a facility that maintains aircraft at Naha Airport.
According to those involved within the OPG, Japan Transocean Air (JTA), which has a maintenance base at the airport, also wants to expand the existing facility. The OPG plans to carry out research on the construction of a new maintenance base, and will look for companies that would use the base once it is complete. If ANA succeeds in building such a base at Naha Airport, the airport will become a maintenance hub for air carriers and leading low-cost air carriers both inside and outside of Japan. This would help to promote Okinawa as an international hub for aviation and commodity distribution.

An executive member of the OPG said that ANA is considering the advantages offered by Naha Airport, which boasts Japan’s widest airline network after Haneda Airport, and is looking at expanding its business to the airport. ANA also sees Okinawa’s warm climate as suitable for its painting operation.

At Naha Airport, in addition to its own aircraft, JTA maintains those of Japan Airlines. The people involved in JTA plan to increase employment in Okinawa by expanding the existing facility in the airport, saying, “We want to increase our international competitiveness by expanding the facility. That way we will not be outdone by companies in countries such as China that can provide cheap prices.”

Even though ANA plans to construct a maintenance base near Ominezaki, where JTA’s maintenance facility is located, it is looking for an alternative site because the area around Ominezaki, which hosts the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (surface-to-air missile) unit of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, does not have any room to spare. The manner in which it will be used and scale of the base is yet to be decided.

In the new development plan the 21st Century Okinawa Vision Master Plan, there is mention that the OPG intends to seek to attract airline companies, expand the airline’s distribution network and investigate the possibility of establishing airport-based industries. This would include aircraft maintenance bases aimed at forming an international hub for commodity distribution by developing the airport site and harbor industries. The OPG expects projects such as aircraft maintenance for low-cost air carriers that are in high demand, to expand in the prefecture.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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