You might have come across “Osaka Airport” when searching for “Kansai Airport” and wonder what the difference is? Yes, there are two airports which could be called Osaka Airport. I know it is very confusing!!
In this article, I will introduce these 2 airports and the reason why both are called Osaka Airports in conclusion.
There are two airports in Osaka
First of all, there are 2 airports in Osaka prefecture. That is Itami Airport (ITM) and Kansai Airport (KIX). Let’s say you are searching for an air ticket for Osaka, and you would find the airport code name “KIX”. You never find “ITM”. From this, you might think Kansai Airport is the Osaka International airport, right? But the official name of Itami Airport(ITM) is “Osaka International airport”. …Why???
Itami Airport (ITM)
Let me show you Itami airport first. Itami Airport is an airport located in Itami city. It is the closest airport from Osaka city, and it takes only 30 minutes to the central area in Osaka city such as Umeda and Nanba.
As I mentioned, official name of Itami Airport is “Osaka International Airport” (大阪国際空港). From its name, you get the impression this airport is the main international airport which represents Osaka city, don’t you? Strangely enough, there is NO international flight service at Itami Airport contrary to its official name. Japanese never call it “Osaka International Airport”. Instead, mostly we call it just “Itami Airport”.
Itami Airport is NOT an international airport
Itami Airport is an airport that has a long history. It was built in 1939, and it began operations as an international airport from 1960. Back then all local Japanese in the Kansai area were departing from Itami Airport. Vice versa, all flights for Kansai areas were arriving at Itami Airport.
In 1994, when Kansai airport was constructed, Itami Airport finished its role as international airport, and started the operation as domestic airport.
Nowadays, Itami airport is in service to 26 cities in Japan. It is the most convenient airport for domestic flight in the Kansai area. People use Itami airport mainly when traveling to other cities such as Tokyo, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, etc.
Kansai Airport (KIX)
Next, let’s talk about Kansai Airport (KIX). Official name of Kansai Airport is “Kansai International Airport” (関西国際空港), and it is commonly known as Kankū (関空) .
Kansai airport is an artificial island located 5km off the coast of Osaka Bay, and it is known as the gateway of western Japan. In 2016, Kansai Airport overtook Narita International Airport to generate operating revenue of 46 billion yen. Now it has become known as "the most earning airport in Japan".
Kansai Airport is the international airport in Osaka
Back in the 1990s, the number of international travelers was increasing as traveling abroad became popular. But Itami airport was not big enough to accept more international flights.For that reason, Kansai Airport was built, and started its operation in 1994.
Since then, Kansai airport has been used as the only international airport in the Kansai region.
As of 2022, there are 51 cities you can fly from/to Kansai International Airport (KIX) directly. Now those who travel to the Kansai region such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara, are all arriving at Kansai International airport.
Okay, let's get to the conclusion now.
Itami airport is officially called “Osaka International Airport”, but it is not working as an international airport and no flights are arriving to this airport anymore. Conversely, although it does not include “Osaka” in its official name, Kansai International Airport now is the only international airport in Osaka. Now all flights from abroad to the Kansai area are arriving at this airport.
Itami airport is called Osaka Airport only because its official name is Osaka International Airport.
Kansai airport is called Osaka Airport as it is the only international airport in Osaka.
From these facts, I think you can regard Kansai airport as “Osaka Airport” especially when you are talking about international flight. If you are arriving at Kansai International airport from overseas, consider taking our private transfer service.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day!