Business aviation traffic in Japan has grown an average of 10.2 percent per year during the past five years, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), an encouraging sign as the country rolls out the welcome for business jet travelers.
In 2018, international business aircraft movements also grew 10.2 percent and in the Tokyo metropolitan area, movements grew 15.5 percent (both compared to 2017).
Most of the latter growth was at Haneda and Narita airports, but movements also increased at Chubu, Kansai, and a group of other airports that serve business aircraft.
At two airports—Nagoya International and Chubu Centrair International—in Aichi prefecture, business jet traffic climbed 12 percent in 2018, year-over-year, reflecting double-digit growth since 2015. Nagoya is unique in having a business aircraft passenger terminal separate from the normal passenger terminal.
According to Kirk Tamura, vice chairman of the Japan Business Aviation Association (JBAA), the association is working on two key focus areas. One is to work with Japanese airports and the government to encourage business aircraft operators to fly to, and make more use of, local airports; and the second is to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games and the boost in business aircraft travel expected next summer.
During a typical year, there are 30 million tourists visiting Japan, Tamura explained, and that number is expected to climb to 40 million in 2020. Even though most of these visitors aren’t traveling on business aircraft, the number of trips on business aircraft is expected to rise, and that has a big influence in Japan. “We have to figure out how to be more welcoming,” he said.
Ryota Nagao, deputy director for the MLIT’s policy planning and research office, and the MLIT’s Momoko Ishikawa, explained that the G20 meeting in November will include an influx of business aircraft to Kansai. The airport there is preparing for the event and will uniquely allow cars to pick up G20 passengers on the ramp.
To help improve business aviation travel in Japan, JBAA and other Japan officials traveled to large U.S. general airports such as Teterboro in New Jersey and Van Nuys in California to observe their success at handling a large volume of business jet traffic. One key difference between Japanese and U.S. airports is that traditional FBOs are rare in Japan, and this is something that JBAA would like to see change. This will take time, however, as there are fewer than 300 general aviation aircraft based in Japan, including about 30 business jets. This number is expected to grow, for example as 10 HondaJets that have been ordered in Japan enter service.
Six Japanese organizations exhibiting at ABACE 2019 are encouraging visitors to travel to Japan in business aircraft. These include Aichi Prefecture/Nagoya Airport (Booth 809), Shizuoka Air Commuter (811), Kyushu Saga International Airport (807), JBAA (805), Tokyo International Air Terminal (803), and Narita International Airport (801). Shizuoka is at ABACE for the first time this year, representing the airport nearest to Mt. Fuji.