Narita runway closed by ground traffic foulup

Kyodo

Narita airport closed one of its two runways Wednesday for about 50 minutes after a plane that had landed ended up facing a departing plane some 400 meters away on the runway, airport officials said.

The two planes, a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines aircraft from Amsterdam and a South Korean Asiana Airlines plane departing for Inchon, South Korea, began moving toward each other until they stopped on the taxiway around 9:30 a.m., the officials said.

The runway was closed and airport workers removed the Asiana Airbus A321 with tractors.

The airport reopened the runway around 10:20 a.m.

NHK said that arriving and departing planes used the second runway during the closure.

The Asiana plane had to be towed because the taxiway, which is about 30 meters wide, was too narrow for the planes to pass each other, and aircraft are not allowed to reverse their engines to move backward, the officials said.

Air-traffic controllers had trouble communicating to the pilots on the KLM Boeing 777 the route the aircraft was supposed to take.

The airport started using the temporarily closed runway in April 2002 prior to the start of the World Cup soccer finals held in Japan and South Korea.

It was the first such incident since December 2002, when a Lufthansa German Airlines plane and Japan Air System aircraft touched wings.