Okinawa to work on promoting use of Shimoji Airport in Miyako

Okinawa to work on promoting use of Shimoji Airport in Miyako

Miyako Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji (second from left) asks Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima (second from right) to internationalize Shimoji Airport. At the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office on March 2013.

September 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Prefectural Government aims to promote the use of Shimoji Airport, an airport for civil aviation training, in Miyako. Poor use of the airport has been a long-standing problem. From September 18, the Prefectural Government, which manages the airport, has started trying to attract airline companies and research institutions from both inside and outside of Okinawa. Six officials tasked with this project have been divided into three groups. They will approach the airlines companies that use Naha Airport, and those in Tokyo, Nagoya and Miyazaki, to request that they conduct training and test flights at the airport.

The Prefectural Government thinks that it will be feasible to take on training aircraft of airline companies, conduct test flights for research institutions and airline companies and provide a landing field for aircraft that mount rockets designed to launch scientific satellites. Other plans are to provide space for commercial spaceports, in which space trip participants carry out training and provide a landing field for private jet aircraft owned by wealthy people.

The government fears that the airport may be shutdown if they cannot find more users, and wants to attract business operators interested in using the airport as soon as possible.

Shimoji Island is connected to Irabu Island with a bridge. Irabu bridge that is open to traffic in 2015, will connect Irabu Island to Miyako Island. With this in the background, the prefectural government is hastening to promote the airport.

Kenichiro Tome, the head of the Civil Engineering and Construction Division of the Prefectural Government, said, “It is important for companies to know whether the airport is on land connected to Miyako Island. The information helps them decide whether or not to use the airport. Even though the Irabu Bridge is not due to be open to traffic in the first half of the next fiscal year, which makes it difficult for the government to promote the airport now, but when it does happen, the bridge opens various possibilities for the airport.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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