NARITA, Chiba Pref. – Crews began work Monday on part of a new runway for Narita airport near lands owned by six farmers who oppose its construction, said officials from the New Tokyo International Airport Authority, Narita’s operator.
At 8 a.m., some 230 workers began erecting 3-meter-tall fences at two locations near land owned by the farmers, the officials said.
They said the authority plans to build approach lights for the runway and a taxiway linking passenger terminals to the planned second runway.
The authority initially planned to build a 2,500-meter runway, but was forced to shorten it to 2,180 meters because it has yet to agree with the landowners on the purchase of land, the officials said.
The residents have voiced opposition to the authority’s attempts to purchase land in the area, claiming the Narita operator is trying to expel them by harassing them with construction.
The authority hopes to make the second runway available from May 20, 2002, just in time for the World Cup, which will be cohosted by Japan and South Korea, according to the officials.
The authority began construction on the second runway last December to help the one-runway airport cope with an expected surge of travelers during the soccer finals.
Narita airport opened in 1978 with a single 4,000-meter runway following years of conflict between planners and landowners. The government envisioned three runways in its original 1966 plan for the airport.
The second runway will be used mainly to accommodate midsize passenger planes flying to and from South Korea and Southeast Asia, as it is too short to be used by jumbo jets plying European and North American routes.