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transper_1pic.gif Central Japan Stretches Its Wings
Centrair's Opening Is Fast Approaching

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The runway, 3,500 meters long and 60 meters wide


Construction on Centrair, Central Japan International Airport, has reached the final stage, and the opening date is set for February 17, 2005. Something close to the finished form this airport will take can now be seen on the artificial airport island in Ise Bay three kilometers off Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture.

This new air gateway to the Chubu region will truly be the representative airport of the twenty-first century in Japan. It has a 3,500-meter runway that is as long as the runways at Narita and Kansai International Airports, and with its offshore location, it will be open 24 hours a day. The merits of having an airport of this scale linked into the global air network from a point in the middle of Japan are incalculable.

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Passenger Terminal Building as of September 3, 2004
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Let us take a tour of the airport island as it reaches completion. The grass planted all around the new runway is growing vigorously, presenting the eye with a vista of lush greenery. The airport facilities and navigation lights are progressing to the inspection stage, and on June 24, a Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport plane outfitted for aerial tests flew in for a trial landing. Construction of the 92-meter-tall Control Tower was finished in October 2003, and the radar system and other assorted equipment are ready for use. The airspace that the Control Tower is responsible for is about twice the size of that currently controlled from Nagoya Airport, creating an area of domestic airspace control second in size only to that handled by Kansai International Airport.

The Passenger Terminal Building is also nearly completed. Of special note are the hot baths on the fourth floor of the building, a first at a Japanese airport. The glass walls and ceiling of the baths, located in the Relaxation and Local Specialty Zone in the top-floor concessions area, will offer the traveler the fascinating experience of watching planes take off and land against the backdrop of the sunset over Ise Bay. Dozens of shops, restaurants, and other tenants have already been lined up for moving into the building.

Road construction in the terminal area is moving quickly forward. The main road, dubbed the Centrair Line, will take visitors off the island over the Centrair Ohashi bridge to the Handa Chuo Junction on the Chita-hanto Expressway, which leads into Nagoya. Visitors traveling by railway can reach Meitetsu Nagoya Station by express in 28 minutes. Currently four special airport express trains per hour are scheduled for operation to cities beyond Nagoya, such as Inuyama, Gifu, and Toyohashi, and they have been painted blue and white to symbolize Ise Bay’s water and the clouds in the sky.

The airport will open up some new international routes to and from Japan while also providing some additional flights on existing routes. Local people are particularly excited about a direct daily flight to Paris that the Japan Airlines Group has decided to operate. The 3,500-meter runway is long enough to accommodate jumbo jets and other aircraft designed for long-haul flights, and this will permit direct flights to the eastern US seaboard, southern Europe, and northern Africa, which are beyond the range of the planes flying out of Nagoya Airport. The expectations for such long-distance routes are high.

On March 25, a month after Centrair’s opening, EXPO 2005 AICHI will start. Taking place in Nagoya Eastern Hills, where the communities of Nagakute, Seto, and Toyota are located, the twenty-first century’s first World Exposition has as its theme “Nature’s Wisdom.” An estimated 15 million visitors are expected to arrive during the 185-day exposition. This will be a huge international event attracting people from all over the world, and undoubtedly Centrair will make a big contribution to this.
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