International Haneda flights to double by ’10

by Shinichi Terada

The government aims to double the number of international flights to and from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to 60,000 by as early as 2010, when the airport’s fourth runway will become operational.

Haneda should allow 30,000 international slots to Europe and other international destinations when Narita International Airport closes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. to reduce noise disturbance. This will create a 24-hour service by integrating the services that will be offered by Haneda and Narita, according to transport minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba.

Haneda will also add 30,000 daytime international slots, offering flights to Asian cities such as Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The move is important as it may help Japan achieve its goal of increasing the number of tourists visiting the country to 10 million by the end of 2010 and help revitalize the economy, according to a government official.

It is also expected to make Tokyo more attractive as a financial center, the official added.

A high-speed train between Narita and Nippori in Tokyo is slated to enter service in 2010 and is expected to reduce the time it takes to get to the airport to 36 minutes from the current 51 minutes.

Another 20,000 international slots will be added at Narita in 2010 when its runways are extended.

Fuyushiba also suggested that Japan should sign an open skies agreement with more Asian countries, on top of the existing accords with South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau.