Bechtel Group Inc. said Wednesday that its Overseas Bechtel unit has signed a contract to manage construction and serve as general contractor for the $800-million terminal to be built at Tokyo's Haneda airport.
The contract marks the first time that an American firm has been granted a role as significant as general contractor in a large Japanese construction project, the giant San Francisco-based construction and engineering firm said.
Since the Japanese agreed in 1988--under pressure from the U.S. government--to open up its construction market, American firms have made some gains through joint ventures. But some complained that the pace was too slow and that they weren't getting significant roles.
"This is definitely a breakthrough," a Bechtel spokesman said.
The role of Overseas Bechtel is "definitely not window dressing," said John L. Moore Jr., a Bechtel Group director who is based in Tokyo as the company's senior regional executive in the Far East.
"Our success in this award is the result of the groundwork we've laid over the past several years, including being the first U.S. company to gain a construction license in Japan," he said. "It shows that patience and responsiveness to client needs works in Japan as it does elsewhere in the world."
The company would not disclose the dollar value of Bechtel's participation in the joint venture. Bechtel said the sponsoring company for the joint venture--Japan's Taisei Corp.--will hold the largest single share. But Bechtel, the only foreign company in the joint venture, is among the largest shareholders.
Bechtel said the project will begin Jan. 1 with planning and start-up work on the five-story, 24-gate terminal. Construction on the 3.1 million square-foot facility is scheduled to be completed in late 1992. The terminal is designed to serve Japan's growing domestic air travel market, which has increasingly moved to close-in Haneda--owned by Japan Airport Terminal Co.--since the opening of the Narita International Airport some distance from Tokyo.