The Kansai International Airport will be able to handle 40 million international passengers, upon the completion of the renovation and expansion project. Credit: VINCI Airports.
The Terminal 1 renovation project aims to enhance the passenger experience. Credit: OBAYASHI CORPORATION.
The renovation and expansion project is being implemented in phases. Credit: VINCI Airports.

Kansai International Airport, an important hub located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, Japan, is undergoing a major renovation to upgrade and expand its Terminal 1.

The airport serves as the gateway to Kansai, the second-largest metropolitan area in Japan.

The international airport is operated by Kansai Airports under a 44-year concession agreement which was signed in 2015. Kansai Airports is jointly owned by Japanese integrated financial services provider Orix (40%), French airport concession company VINCI Airports (40%), and local companies (20%) from the Kansai region.

The renovation project will expand the capacity for international flights and improve the passenger experience. Terminal 1 renovation project was expected to begin in December 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Full-fledged construction works are expected to begin by the end of May 2021.

The project represents the most significant renovation work undertaken in the region in the last 50 years. The main functions of the airport are expected to be ready for use in time for Osaka-Kansai Expo, a six-month international exhibition to be held in Osaka in 2025.

The expansion will enable the airport to accommodate 40 million international passengers a year, a 36% increase over the volume served in 2018. It will also boost the economic growth of Japan.

Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 renovation project details

To be implemented in four phases until 2026, the project aims to address congestion problems in the international zone of the airport. It will involve the reorganisation of the terminal layout to enable the relocation of domestic operations, and the expansion of the international area. The terminal will be incorporated with modern Japanese design code and additional commercial area to transform it into a gateway to Japan and the Osaka region.

The runway area will be optimised, and new relaxation areas will be added to improve passenger comfort. Features such as self-service check-in and bag drop facility, smart lanes, and e-gates will also be made available to enable quick service.

A new domestic area will be created on the second floor along with the expansion of the international arrival corridor on the third floor during the first phase of the renovation and expansion project, with its opening scheduled for late 2022.

The central zone of the international departure area on the second floor and the emigration area to be built on the third floor will be opened in the second phase in Winter 2023. To be completed in 2025, the third phase will involve the development of a new security screening area on the fourth floor and international lounges on the third floor.

Expansion of the north and south side commercial facilities in the international departure area on the second floor is expected to be completed in late 2026. The renovation project will increase the retail and food and beverage space in international departures by more than 60%. Furthermore, the airport will be upgraded to withstand major seismic events.

Other developments at Kansai International Airport

A new Hugo Boss boutique in the post-security area of Terminal 1 was opened in March 2020, while e-gates at the international departure area of Terminal 1 were opened in July 2020.

Spanish luxury brand Loewe opened its new store in the international departure area of Terminal 1 in January 2021. The Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan opened an art exhibition at the airport as part of a cultural promotion project known as ‘Culture Gate to Japan’ in March 2021.

Contractors involved

Obayashi, a construction company based in Japan, was awarded a contract for the renovation of Terminal 1 of the Kansai Airport.

The design team for the renovation project includes American architectural firm Populous, French consultancy company Saguez & Partners, and British design company Pascall + Watson.