Centrair, formally known as the Central Japan International Airport, was conceived and constructed as a new air gateway to the central region of Japan. The artificial airport island is located in the Aichi prefecture, about 170 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Central Japan International Airport (Centrair) won the Director General’s Roll of Excellence award from the Airport Council International (ACI). It also won SKYTRAX’s Best Regional Airport Asia Award 2011 and was ranked second in the SKYTRAX Best Airport Security Processing 2011. In 2010, it won ACI’s Airport Service Quality Award among airports handling over five to 15 million passengers.

The airport now serves a major population centre of about ten million people and also a major industrial area; the airport also handles a significant quantity of commercial cargo from the area.

Much of the cargo leaving Centrair consists of orders from automobile producers based in the region. The airport handled 162,000t of cargo during 2008. The passenger traffic was 10.8 million in 2008.

Despite much protest over the project’s necessity by local environmentalists and fishermen, construction started in August 2000. The airport was opened on schedule in March 2005.

Airport traffic has been growing since its opening, and it is now Japan’s third-largest international airport.

The new airport has also been designated a Class 1 national airport as well as an international airport. The airport is now operating at full capacity and all international and domestic passenger flights that previously used the Nagoya Airport were transferred to the new airport.

Operators and finance

The airport’s operator is a consortium made up of the central and local governments as well as over 200 companies. The consortium is known as Central Japan International Airport Company (CJIAC) and they were appointed by the national government in July 1998 to be the constructing and managing body of Centrair.

The airport construction cost approximately 768bn yen ($7bn). CJIAC fostered an excellent environmental record during the construction project and were ISO 14001 certified during the course of the project.

Centrair’s design and construction

The new airport was constructed on an artificial offshore island created by a land-reclamation scheme started in 2001 and completed by spring of 2003. The land was reclaimed by building concrete revetments on the seabed and then building the island up with hundreds of tons of rock and sandstone landfill. The seabed was particularly shallow and stable in this region, allowing this to be achieved.

The island, constructed by Penta-Ocean Construction Co, was initially designed to allow for one large runway. The airport occupies an area of 4.3km × 1.9km on the island, leaving the remaining space for local wildlife.

Since its is an offshore airport, only water areas are affected by aircraft noise, enabling aircraft to land and take-off 24 hours a day without the time constraints that affect other airports that are closer to habitation.

Improvements

Apron expansion was started in seven locations on the island in 2006. The work is yet to be completed. Expansion of the cargo apron was completed and the expanded apron became operational in July 2007. A second 4,000m runway is being constructed, which will occupy an additional three square kilometres of space and be situated around 300m from the existing runway. The runway will cost 2tn yen ($17 billion).

Passenger terminal

The passenger terminal was designed by a joint venture; CJIAC commissioned four construction companies to participate in the planning, design and survey of the passenger terminal area. The four companies were Nikken Sekkei Ltd and Azusa Sekkei Co, both of Japan, along with Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum Inc (HOK) of the US and UK firm Bovis Program Management Japan Inc. Arup was responsible for structural and faced engineering.

The passenger terminal building consists of four areas – main building, international wing, domestic wing and centre pier. It is a long narrow T-shaped building about 1,030m in the north-south direction and about 500m in the east-west direction.

The main terminal building has a central pier extending towards the runway and two ‘wings’ extending out to the sides. The roof covering this large building has a total area of about 80,000m², and is an important element both functionally and architecturally.

The total system used to construct the terminal is a combination of space trusses and raking columns (columns with four inclined members), to give an integrated, simple, and rational design. For architectural expression the linear trusses are exposed to form the ceiling reminiscent of origami.

"The new airport island was created by a land-reclamation scheme completed in early 2003."

The total floor area for the passenger terminal is 220,000m². The terminal building comprises two self-contained levels allowing easier flight connections for travellers. The terminal also has abundant commercial space for shops and malls and an observation deck to allow views of the airplane takeoffs and landings. Also, by using glass and metal panels in the façade to give a design with a feeling of transparency, natural light is allowed in for plants.

On the west side facing Ise Bay glass was used abundantly to create a feeling of openness and to make the most of the natural light.

To increase the energy efficiency of the design louvers created light shading and multilayer glass was used for thermal insulation.

Some of the building’s main attractions are the Tenbo Buro (bath with a view), a spa facility that offers views of airliners landing and taking off and the indoor garden where Japanese couples can stage wedding ceremonies. The terminal building has won several awards for its design, including the Good Design Award 2005, the Cyubu Architecture Award 2005 and the Aichi Townscape Architecture Award 2005.

Retail expansion

Plans to expand the retail space in the international departure area at Centrair began in April 2006 and were completed in 2007. This has further improved the service for passengers.

A new gift and travel goods shop opened in another area with a larger floor space and the foreign money exchange booth was moved to a new area in the terminal that is more accessible to arriving passengers. Eateries, business and conference facilities were also developed.

Meanwhile, the deli and cafe floor space was extended into the space vacated by the old gift and travel goods shop. Expansion work was completed in 2007.

New cargo apron and warehouse

In 2007 expansion of the cargo apron was completed and put into operation. This included a 30,688m² area with three new aircraft stands for the larger cargo aircraft. Also in 2007, construction of the international cargo warehouse 3 was finished. The new warehouse building measures 9,500m² the majority of which is operated by Sky Support Service Corporation. The total international cargo handling floor space in the Centrair cargo area spans 440,000m².

Airport access

The airport is joined to the mainland via a four-lane highway stretching some 2.1km to join the Chita transversal road, second Tomei expressway and the Meishin expressway. This access road ensures a high-speed link to the airport for motor vehicles from the mainland (30-40 minutes travel time).

In addition, an airport access railway was completed in March 2006, which now links the airport to central Nagoya in a travel time of only 28 minutes. This was done with a link to the Tokoname line of the Nagoya railroad. The airport trains also provide direct connections to Toyohashi, Inuyama and Gifu City.

"Centrair is joined to the mainland via a four-lane highway and a new railway link to central Nagoya."

Centrair is also connected to Tsu in Mie prefecture by high-speed boat from its own marine terminal.

On the mainland opposite the airport island various projects have been developed including new town planning, landscaping, commercial areas and an observatory for watching aircraft.

Scanning technology

CJIAC in Japan ordered CTX series explosives detection systems from InVision Technologies Inc, Newark, California, to be installed in the Centrair terminal.

The CTX 9000 DSi system is the fastest FAA-certified explosives detection system (EDS) currently available. The system is FAA-certified at 542 bags an hour but can use alternative modes to increase throughput.

The system has a 1m-wide conveyor that coordinates with standard airport baggage handling systems and requires minimal space for installation. The CTX 9000 DSi has core technology derived from medical computerised tomography (CT).

Parking

The airport has five car parks namely P1, P2, P3, P4 and P5 providing 4,500 spaces. P1 and P2 provide long term parking while short term parking facility is available at P3. Parking facilities for disabled are available across P1, P2 and P3.