The Transport Ministry and the New Tokyo International Airport Authority will soon announce a draft plan to build a 2,000-meter runway at Narita Airport by skirting land owned by runway opponents, sources close to the Transport Ministry said Friday.

The plan, which will be announced as early as next week, would be a stopgap measure until a longer runway can be built at Narita, Tokyo’s main international hub in Chiba Prefecture, they said.

On Monday, the ministry dropped plans to build a 2,500-meter runway by its initial target of March 2001 due to ardent opposition from local landowners.

The ministry is expected to approve the shorter runway — the airport’s second — by September. Airport authorities should begin building on land already obtained by the government before the end of the year.

The decision by the government to go ahead with construction of a shorter runway could further complicate the impasse with local landowners, who oppose the airport’s expansion and claim that the new plan is a part of the government’s attempt to evict them.

The southern edge of the new runway will be located 450 meters north of the homes of anti-airport farmers in the Higashimine area of Narita, the sources said.

The 2,000-meter runway would be capable of handling midsize airliners such as the Boeing 767, which flies between Narita and Asian countries. The runway, however, would be too short to handle jumbo jets flying to Europe or the United States, they said.

The Transport Ministry estimates the new runway will be sufficient to handle flight increases at the airport during the next soccer World Cup in June 2002.

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