Japan’s New Kansai International Airport has shortlisted 20 bidders for a multi-billion dollar concession to operate the airport for 44 years.
The bidders include Macquarie Group’s Macquarie Capital Group, Singapore’s Changi Airports International and Global Infrastructure Management, which operates London Gatwick Airport.
Japanese financial services supplier Orix and property developer Mitsubishi Estate have also been shortlisted.
According to a Reuters report, New Kansai International officials had said in July that the licence for Kansai will be bundled with operating rights for Osaka International Airport and is expected to fetch at least $16.6 billion.
The company will use the proceeds from the transaction to repay a $10 billion debt to the state.
The winner of the bidding is expected to form a consortium, which will be announced by June following a second round of bidding.
Located within three municipalities, including Izumisano (north), Sennan (south) and Tajiri (central) in Japan’s Osaka Prefecture, the airport was opened on 4 September 1994 to handle increasing passenger numbers at Osaka International Airport, which is closer to the city of Osaka and now handles only domestic flights.
The airport serves as a hub for airlines such as All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines. However, it has been in debt, with a loss of approximately $560 million in interest every year.
The auction is part of prime minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to strengthen private-sector investment in Japan’s infrastructure to help the nation reduce its debt.
The country is also selling the operating rights for its tenth largest airport, Sendai Airport in northern Japan. Its bidders include a consortium of Mitsubishi Estate and ANA Holdings, Japan’s largest carrier.