The operator of domestic terminals at Tokyo's Haneda airport will launch an airport terminal business in the Pacific island nation of Palau, its first such project overseas.
Haneda airport's passenger terminals have been awarded the "5-Star Airport" rating by Skytrax, a Britain-based air transport research firm, for the fourth straight year, earning high marks for staff service, user-friendliness and cleanliness, among other categories.
Last year, over 80 million passengers passed through Haneda, the world's fifth busiest airport, and the number is expected to grow further in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Domestic terminals 1 and 2 at Haneda airport are owned, managed and operated by Japan Airport Terminal Co., while the terminal for international flights is owned, managed and operated by Tokyo International Air Terminal Corp.
Japan Airport Terminal, in cooperation with Japanese trading house Sojitz Corp., aims to make the most of its knowledge and skills gained from running Haneda's domestic terminals in managing Palau international airport through a joint venture, Palau International Airport Corp.
Palau airport, which is equipped with a 2,100-meter runway, handles mid-sized passenger jets such as the Boeing 767, but the terminal, which is under the direct management of the Palau government, is narrow and crowded, and there is a shortage of seats.
"There are a number of good hotels (in Palau) but inconvenience at the airport could spoil people's great memories (of their visit)," said Kazuo Inaba, deputy senior executive officer of Japan Airport Terminal, who believes the company can make a positive contribution by offering a better passenger experience.
According to the plan, renovation work on the two-story, 5,500 square meter building will begin around May next year to expand its floor size by about 1.5 times to meet the rising number of passengers. The total cost for the project is estimated at around 3.5 billion yen ($31 million).
Currently, Delta Air Lines operates regular flights between Japan's Narita airport, east of Tokyo, and Palau, while All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines connect the two countries with charter flights.
In 2015, more than 160,000 people visited Palau, known for its popular diving and snorkeling spots, of whom around 30,000 were Japanese.