DBJ, Mitsubishi land concession of seven airports in Hokkaido

The consortium is led by Hokkaido Airport Terminal, which owns the current operator of the island’s busiest airport, New Chitose.

A 17-member local consortium that includes the Development Bank of Japan and Mitsubishi Corporation has been selected as the preferred bidder for the 30-year concession of seven airports on Japan’s Hokkaido island, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced.

The consortium, led by Hokkaido Airport Terminal, also comprises Japan Airlines, ANA airlines and Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance, among others.

The bundle includes New Chitose Airport, the fifth busiest airport in the country, having handled more than 22 million passengers in 2017, and six smaller facilities, including three currently subsidised by their respective municipalities (Obihiro, Asahikawa and Memanbetsu).

The other regional airports are Hakodate, Wakkanai and Kushiro.

According to a statement from Japan’s MLIT, the government and the consortium will sign an initial agreement in August.

The Mitsubishi Corporation and the Development Bank of Japan declined to comment on the arrangements of the concession.

Among the other bidders for the bundle of airports were SkySeven, a consortium of several Japanese companies, and French airport operator ADP, Infrastructure Investor understands.

According to a source, a third consortium led by Japanese trading house Orix and France’s Vinci withdrew its bid halfway through the process, “probably” due to the impact of last year’s typhoon on operations at Kansai International Airport, also managed by a consortium led by both firms. It took 17 days for the facility to fully re-open after the tropical storm.

This will be Mitsubishi’s second investment in Japan’s aviation sector, since the company is also part of the consortium that last year won a 30-year concession to operate Fukuoka Airport.

The Japanese conglomerate seems to be ramping up its involvement in the sector. Earlier this month, it was awarded a 15-year concession, along with other consortium partners, to operate the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport in Mongolia once the facility opens in the first half of 2020.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi, Sotaro Harasawa, confirmed that the firm also participates in the operation of Myanmar’s Mandalay International Airport, but declined to comment on whether the company is invested in any other airports.