CHIBA – Narita airport is seeing a rise in travelers staying overnight to catch early morning flights on budget airlines that began domestic services a year ago.
The airport, run by Narita International Airport Corp. (NAA), used to ban travelers from staying overnight for security reasons but started allowing them in designated parts of Terminal 2 this spring. It even opened a 24-hour convenience store for them in July.
NAA says that as many as 150 passengers stay overnight on some days.
In late July, a group of young budget airline customers were found before dawn sitting on benches in Terminal 2.
“Early morning flights are very convenient because I can make better use of the time on the day I travel,” said a male college student flying to Kagoshima Prefecture.
The early flights started emerging between July and August 2012 with the launch of Jetstar Japan and AirAsia Japan, which fly to Sapporo and elsewhere just after the curfew-bound airport opens at 6 a.m.
Narita airport is lobbying bus companies to increase the number of runs from central Tokyo that can arrive by 6 a.m., since budget carriers are seen as a trump card against Tokyo’s Haneda airport in the competition for surging passenger growth.
“In order to become the airport of choice, we want to continue indirectly supporting budget airline travelers,” said NAA executive Takeshi Arakawa, 57.