Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara said Sunday it is important to maintain Osaka airport although its functions should be downscaled and integrated with those of Kansai International Airport.
“It’s crucial to secure the continued existence of Itami although (aircraft using the airport) should become smaller,” Maehara said after inspecting Kansai airport in Osaka Bay earlier in the day. Osaka airport, located in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, and part of the Osaka Prefecture cities of Toyonaka and Ikeda, is often called Itami.
While Osaka Gov Toru Hashimoto has called for abolishing Osaka airport, Maehara said the airport has ‘‘a role to play as a domestic airport’’ and that local needs for the airport are ‘‘high,’’ while acknowledging its noise problems and limited flight hours. Osaka airport, officially called Osaka International Airport, is currently used mainly for domestic routes after international services moved to Kansai airport when it opened in 1994.