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ANA banking on benefits from expansion at Haneda

JIJI

All Nippon Airways is pinning high hopes on its increased daytime slots for international flights at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Shinichiro Ito, president of ANA Holdings Inc., said recently.

The major carrier “had long hoped” to expand its international services to and from Haneda, Ito said in an interview.

ANA will add 10 daytime international round-trip flights per day at Haneda starting March 30.

People who used to travel to Europe and other overseas destinations by way of Incheon airport in South Korea will be able to transfer at Haneda, he said.

The Japan Railways Group is set to open the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line in spring 2015, enabling people to travel by rail between Tokyo and Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, without having to transfer.

The new bullet train line will be competing with ANA’s services linking Haneda with Ishikawa and Toyama Prefecture.

Ito said the airline will try to maintain the two routes, noting that it will consider such measures as lowering fares for passengers transferring to international flights at Haneda, and using smaller aircraft.

Ito said he is confident foreign visitors to Japan will keep growing after topping 10 million for the first time in 2013.

“Cities that hosted Olympics, such as London and Beijing, have seen the number of foreign visitors continuously rise between their selection and after the events,” he said.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The expected increase in foreign visitors will benefit the tourism industry, boost the economy and have a positive impact on the job market, he said.

On the air defense identification zone China established over the East China Sea in November, Ito said airlines can’t operate if safety is under threat. “We are operating under the assumption that safety is assured to the maximum degree,” he said.