The media has been buzzing about Ibaraki Airport, which opened for business last Thursday with one-count-’em-one flight from Seoul; that is, if you don’t count the “commemorative flight” from Ibaraki to Haneda, which we assume didn’t reach cruising altitude. A second daily flight will start next month between Ibaraki and Kobe on Skymark, which has already offered a nice deal to drum up business at the airport. If you take that flight and transfer to a Skymark flight to Naha, the entire trip will only cost you only ¥13,600.
Cheap! But one thing you always have to factor in when you fly anywhere, and especially in Japan, is the cost of getting to the airport. Despite the fact that the Ibaraki airport authorities are trying to sell their baby as the third airport in the Tokyo metropolitan area, it’s highly doubtful that anyone except Ibarakians (Ibarakiites?) will use it, and even that’s in doubt. Before it opened, the airport is projected to be ¥20 million in the red for the first year of operation. When it was being planned some 20 years ago it was estimated that 810,000 people a year would use it. Media have since reduced that number to 220,000, and the prefecture now only predicts 167,000.
If Ibaraki wants a peek at its future, it doesn’t have to look farther than 100 km away to Fukushima Airport, which for reasons nobody has ever explained satisfactorily, was also touted as a Tokyo metropolitan airport when it opened in 1993. The number of passengers has since dropped steadily and now it only offers three flights a day, and all to Seoul.