Vinci Airports: Re-invigorating travel to Osaka

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Originally opened in 2012, Kansai Airport’s Terminal 2 (T2) facility recently underwent a major transformation program to boost capacity and accommodate the growing popularity of low cost carriers (LCCs) in Japan. Kansai Airports, a consortium comprising French airport operator Vinci Airports and Japanese financial services firm ORIX Corporation, carried out the expansion after acquiring the airport in April 2016.

Kansai’s expansion program added a new international area to the existing facility, boosting its total floor area by more than 380,000ft². With operations beginning in January 2017, T2 now boasts a total area of 710,000ft² with separate areas for domestic and international LCC passengers. This has raised the terminal’s capacity from four million passengers annually to more than eight million.

Kansai T2 already has a reputation for being one of the best low cost airline terminals in the world, reinforced this year by its second place finish in the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline Terminals’ category at the Skytrax World Airport Awards, which took place at Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in March of this year.

According to Jeremy Goldstrich, chief operations officer and corporate executive vice-president of Kansai Airports, T2’s new international facility is already experiencing real success with the likes of Peach and Spring Airlines, with a total of 120 international flights per week scheduled for the 2017 winter schedule.

When discussing the attractiveness of T2 to LCCs, Goldstrich explains, “T2 differs from Terminal 1 (T1) in that passengers walk from the terminal building to the aircraft, rather than use boarding bridges. Airlines don’t have to bear boarding bridge usage fees, so their costs can be reduced by that amount. Furthermore, the aircraft can drive in and out of the terminal, eliminating the need for pushback in some cases. This enables more efficient operations – another big advantage.”

Enhanced duty free experience

As well as the international extension, the renovated T2 building features the first walk-through duty-free shopping area in Japan. Goldstrich estimates that sales in the walk-through store have almost doubled compared with the previous store, which can be partly attributed to the new layout for inbound passengers.

“The majority of Peach and Spring travelers are inbound,” said Goldstrich. “We therefore concentrated the terminal’s retail facilities in the duty-free area rather than the general zone so that more customers can enjoy a positive shopping experience.”

Kansai Airports will now look to replicate the success of the new T2 duty-free area in T1, by creating a better commercial environment for the increasing number of inbound passengers.

Encouraging growth

In January alone, international traffic at T2 increased by 13% year-on-year to 1.67 million, with the majority of travelers being inbound. To further encourage growth, Kansai Airports will introduce an Aero Pricing and Incentive Policy from April 1, 2017, containing reduced international and domestic flight landing charges. This includes a 50% discount for scheduled flights landing between 1:00am and 5:59am. Vinci Airports hopes that by using a peak/off-peak system they will help to maximize the use of Kansai’s new facilities.

To cater to passengers using the airport during off-peak times, T2’s Seven Eleven shop and Caffe & Bar Pronto, located in the general area before immigration, are open 24 hours a day, with many other shops beyond security opening at 05:30am and closing at 10:25pm.

Other incentives will see huge discounts applied to new routes, which Vinci defines as those not served by scheduled flights during Kansai’s summer or winter seasons in 2016. Mid- and long-haul routes will have landing charges cut by 100% in the first year, 80% in the second and 40% in the third, while short-haul routes will receive discounts of 90%, 60% and 40% respectively. Finally, international flights will have a 100% discount applied to the landing charge of the shorter leg of a transit flight which flies to the third country via Kansai.

Improving the passenger experience

IATA and ACI’s Smart Security (SmartS) program has been a major factor behind Kansai’s ability to cater for the increased number of passengers. The initiative enabled the airport to streamline its security procedures and enhance its screening capacity from approximately 180 passengers per hour to 350. This was achieved without hiring any extra personnel, however Goldstrich stresses that the airport is committed to “adding young, motivated individuals to its ranks from all over Japan.”

Other positive passenger experience factors include free wi-fi throughout T2 (this is also the case in T1) as well as several public plug sockets for charging personal electronic devices.

Kansai is also environmentally friendly. In December 2016, both of Vinci’s Japanese airports – Kansai and Itami – obtained Level 2 accreditation (Reduction) from ACI Europe’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program. They were the first airports in the country to do so.

To further enhance Kansai’s sustainability, LED lighting has been installed across 90% of the airport’s lighting. Furthermore, the lighting is controlled by both motion and daylight sensors for maximum efficiency. Elsewhere, Kansai’s T2 building benefits from double-glazing and air conditioning inverters, which significantly reduce energy consumption. Escalators, moving walkways and air handling equipment are also controlled automatically, reducing energy consumption during quiet periods. From 2014-2015, Vinci Airports achieved a 5% reduction in its CO₂ emissions per traffic unit.


Stephanie began freelancing for Passenger Terminal Today in January 2017. She started her career in aviation as an editorial assistant at HMG Aerospace, working on LARA (formerly Low-Fare & Regional Airlines) and Inflight magazines and was quickly promoted to assistant editor for both publications.

During her time with HMG, Stephanie wrote features on topics ranging from aircraft interiors to pilot training, and was twice shortlisted in the ‘Best Young Journalist’ category at the Aerospace Media Awards.

April 5, 2017

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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