Chubu International Airport, sometimes called Central Japan International Airport
in a literal translation
of the Chubu
region's name, or Centrair
in an abbreviated literal translation, is Japan
's third major international gateway
after Narita International Airport
and Kansai International Airport
. It opened in 2005
Like Kansai, Chubu is built on an artificial island. The site is 35km south of Nagoya, adjacent to the coastal factory town of Tokoname. Nagoya previously had an international airport, the aptly-named Nagoya Airport, but it was located near the center of the city and therefore suffered from draconian noise abatement laws similar to those that dogged Osaka Itami Airport. Its traffic had been steadily increasing, and surpassed 10 million passengers and 150,000 tons of cargo in 1999. To make matters worse, the runway at NGO, at a paltry 2,740 meters, was not large enough to accommodate the largest widebody aircraft that would make it viable as a transpacific gateway.
Unlike Kansai, Chubu's island was created in shallow waters, only four to five meters deep. It is also much closer to the shoreline, with its main runway angled so that the noise carpet is completely over water. The entire island is 4.3 km long and 1.9 km wide, and can be expanded in the future to accommodate a second parallel runway. In contrast to Kansai's rectangular shape, Chubu is rounded to keep it from interfering with ocean currents.
Its construction cost is 768 billion yen, a quarter of the initial estimates thanks to a simplified design. Toyota (which is based near the airport) and Chubu Electric are the largest investors in the project.
Some controversy has arisen over how the new airport will be operated. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has given vocal support for privatizing all three international airports, and using profits from Narita to help boost Kansai and Chubu's budgets: many, however, are worrying that this will make Narita's landing fees higher and drive many international flights out of Japan entirely. Since the three airports are relying on growing connecting traffic between the US, Europe, and Southeast Asia for much of their future growth, this could turn into a thorny problem indeed.