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New international terminal opens Okinawa to regional markets
Kathy Neo, Okinawa, March 31, 2014

OKINAWA expects to handle more visitors with last month's opening of a brand new international terminal at Naha Airport.


In response to increasing international traffic over the past years, the new four-storey terminal was constructed to be almost four times bigger than the previous one. Spanning 23,700m2, it features 20 check-in counters, two F&B outlets, two souvenir shops and an observation deck on the top floor.


A spokesperson for the airport told TTG Asia e-Daily that the linking of the new building with the domestic terminal is being considered for construction depending on demand, the soonest being five years' time.


Naha Airport has also commenced the construction of a second runway end-March, which is expected to complete in 2019.


Currently, the airport's traffic from Asia is largely contributed by source markets Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea, which offer regular direct flights to Okinawa.


The Okinawan government is targeting to attract more visitors from other destinations in the region, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.


In the pipeline are plans to commence direct flights from Singapore, as part of the MoU signed on March 25 between Singapore Changi Airport and Okinawa Prefecture (TTG Asia e-Daily, March 26, 2014).


There were also plans to facilitate traffic flow from Malaysia, which are on hold now, according to Sen Tamaki, manager for overseas marketing at Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We had been in talks with Malaysia Airlines for the possibility of chartered services from Malaysia; unfortunately the discussion is now shelved due to the recent incident of the missing MH370 flight," revealed Tamaki.


The airport infrastructure enhancement is a step towards expanding the international market, which is still a small source compared to the domestic market.


Tamaki said about 91 per cent of overall annual arrivals come from mainland Japan, out of which almost 50 per cent hail from Tokyo.

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