New airport in Kobe
What is the future of air trips? Although the price of airplane tickets is getting cheaper, the environmental costs of this means of transport seem to doom it in the long run. But, while valid alternatives are still non-existent, the investments in the development of airplanes and related infrastructures is still soaring. In Japan, four new and innovative airports are, at the moment, under construction.
Maybe calling these new infrastructures "floating" would be over the top. In reality, they are huge artificial islands, located a few kilometres from the coastal line and connected to it by a narrow cord: a highway. This isn't the first time this sollution has been used - it had already been applied in Hong Kong and Macau - but this is the first time it has been put to use in a large scale. Four of Japan's biggest cities, Kobe, Kansai, Kitakyushu and Cyubu will benefit from these new airports.
New airport in Kitakyushu
Airports in Kansai and Cyubu
The advantages of this crafty system are many. In the first place, the space used. The small and over-populated Japanese territory wouldn't be able to withhold any more facilities with this dimension without seriously damaging its cities and its landscape. In the second place, the sound and air pollution is softened by the fact the airports are four or five kilometres away from land. Finally, its functionality. With no restrictions, the runways can be used according to the dominant winds and work 24 hours a day.
Kansai was the first one to be built, in the heart of Osaka bay. The artificial island has a 4 km length and needed over 20 million cubic metres of earth and sand, placed with the help of 80 ships. After this staggering task, building a 3 km bridge to connect it to the mainland was a kid's joke... And one of the trademarks of these airports are their magnificent bridges that connect them to the mainland.
Bridge of the Kitakyushu airport
Bridge in the Kansai airport
Bridge in the Cyubu airport