New terminal opens at Haneda

by Kazuaki Nagata

Rainy weather could not dampen the festive mood Thursday at Haneda airport in Tokyo as it inaugurated a new international terminal and a fourth runway, keys to turning the airport into a 24-hour global aviation hub.

The new terminal, as well as the new 2,500-meter runway, received favorable responses from passengers and visitors.

“Accessibility is great. It’s really convenient,” said Masakuni Yajima, a 42-year-old Yokohama resident.

Yajima, who came by car to check out the new terminal, said it took about an hour to get to Haneda, which is much easier to reach from Yokohama than Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture. He said he is excited about Haneda’s new international flight operations.

From Oct. 31, Haneda will host regularly scheduled international flights for the first time in 32 years. This winter, Haneda will be connected to 17 cities in 11 countries or regions. Destinations include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, British Columbia, Beijing, Seoul, Bangkok and Paris.

Currently, Haneda mainly handles domestic flights and only short-haul charter flights to and from four overseas destinations — Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Under a government policy, all international carriers apart from a Taiwanese airline shifted to Narita when it opened in 1978.

As for Haneda’s new international terminal, Yajima said the Edo-style shopping arcade on the fourth floor will probably be a popular draw for foreign tourists.

“It might look too much for Japanese people, but I think many foreign visitors will be pleased.”

Mitsue Sato, a 40-something woman from Chiba Prefecture, visited the terminal just before her trip to Okinawa with friends.

“We wanted to check out (the shopping arcade),” Sato said. “I like it. It has good Japanese atmosphere.”

Lines of people waited outside the many restaurants in the shopping area, the most crowded part of the terminal, Thursday.