Narita to retire inter-terminal buses, use walkways

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Narita International Airport on Friday announced it will put new moving walkways into service on Sept. 27 to help travelers more quickly reach the departure and arrival concourses in an annex to Terminal 2.

The only way to get to the building at present is by bus. According to the airport’s spokesman, the buses ferry an average of 15,000 passengers a day.

People have complained about the lines for the bus and the inhospitably lengthy wait. The walkway scheme will replace the buses.

The spokesman did not officially confirm the complaints, but acknowledged that the new system is partly an attempt to provide quicker access at a time when foreign arrivals are expected to grow from an aggressive tourism campaign.

Cutting back on maintenance costs for the buses is another reason for installing the walkways, he added.

According to the airport, the new access aisle will be 220 meters long and boast a “speedwalk” system that allows people to reach the concourses in around two minutes. The bus services will be discontinued.

“We hope the aisle will make our passengers’ traveling experience more stress-free,” the spokesman said, adding that the airport will continue efforts to entertain tourists with Japanese-style hospitality, such as periodic sake-sampling events.

Foreign visitors to Narita sank to 321,625 in April 2011 right after the monster quake and tsunami the month before triggered three nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture, tainting Japan’s reputation for safety. The figure has been gradually rebounding, aided by a weakened yen, and reached 834,089 this July, the highest since the March 2011 calamity.