Kagoshima Airport On Quest To Rebuild International Network


Kagoshima Airport in southern Japan does not expect a full recovery from the pandemic until 2025.

Credit: Tang Wai Chung/Truphotos.com/Alamy Stock Photo

CHIANG MAI, Thailand—Kagoshima Airport (KOJ) in southern Japan is optimistic that new longer-range narrowbody aircraft like the Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737 MAX will open the city to new markets in Southeast Asia.

The airport sent its strongest team to Routes Asia 2023 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, paired with Kagoshima city representatives to meet airlines. The airport held discussions with LCCs in Southeast Asia, hoping to establish links with airlines in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Pre-pandemic, Kagoshima was served by six international carriers flying in from four cities: Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei. The airport's international network was dismantled over the the pandemic, but now international airlines are starting to return with charter service from South Korean LCC T’way scheduled for March. HK Express is expected to be the first scheduled operator starting summer 2023. 

Kazuhisa Arimura, Kagoshima Airport's general manager, said he was facing a shortage of ground-handling capacity, which he blamed as being the primary cause of carriers being slow to return to the airport. He does not expect a full recovery soon, suggesting that will only come in 2025. A number of airlines have expressed interest in launching services to Kagoshima but are for now reserving their capacity for China and larger city pairs. 

Situated on the island of Kyushu, Kagoshima hopes it can stand out from primary gateway Fukuoka (FUK) as a holiday and resort destination. The city is proactively mounting marketing campaigns to engage potential tourists as it strives to stimulate demand.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.