79,000-slot expansion possible at Haneda, Narita airports

JIJI

A transport ministry panel said Friday that it is possible to increase the total annual number of arrival and departure slots at two international airports in the Tokyo area by up to 79,000 to add extra capacity for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The current slot total is 717,000, consisting of 447,000 at Tokyo International Airport in Haneda and 270,000 at Narita International Airport in Chiba. Narita is expected to have 300,000 slots by the end of March 2015.

The panel proposed increasing the frequency of runway use and allowing flights over central Tokyo to boost slots at Haneda.

For Narita, the main international gateway, the panel proposed improving flight control functions and adding taxiways between airport terminals and runways.

If those proposals are carried out, the two airports will be allowed to add about 100 flights per day together.

The increase in slots should be mainly used for international flights, where demand is expected to grow substantially, said Hitoshi Ieda, chairman of the panel and a professor at the University of Tokyo.

The panel said it is necessary to consider adding one runway each to the two airports as ways to expand slots after 2020. This is expected to increase the total by up to 290,000 per year. At present, Haneda has four runways and Narita two, which took decades to build due to farmer protests.