Expansion plans for around ten Japanese regional airports could suffer delays following moves within Japan's transport ministry to spin out its spending on airport construction beyond the year 2000.

Sources within the ministry say that that the aim is to extend the existing five-year 1996-2000 airport build-up plan by an additional two years in an effort to reduce the annual spend. The ministry has allocated a total of ´582 billion ($5.2 billion) for the construction of regional airports and a further ´1.3 trillion on expanding hub airports.

Budget proposals for the 1998 fiscal year, which are due to be confirmed by the end of July, are understood to include a cut to the planned expenditure on construction over the year, as investment commitments are pushed out beyond 2000.

Although the two-year extension will affect regional and hub airports, the ministry source says that the budget will be drawn up in such a way as to put "continued emphasis" on developing international connections at airports such as Kansai International, New Tokyo and Nagoya Chubu. "As a result, all these major projects should go ahead as scheduled," he says, adding that plans for regional airport would be delayed.

Source: Flight International