Passport-control services at Tokyo City Air Terminal will soon be discontinued for passengers departing from Narita airport because of reduced traffic and more stringent security measures in the wake of Sept. 11, immigration officials have warned.
“The number of people using (TCAT) has been decreasing on an annual basis,” said a Tokyo Immigration Bureau official at the Narita airport branch, which oversees TCAT’s services. “From a rational standpoint, we have decided to withdraw.”
TCAT, located in Chuo Ward near the Sumida River, provides passport control and check-in services for some airlines, allowing passengers to skip these procedures — and the accompanying lines — at Narita airport. Its convenient location at Suitengumae subway station is popular with business travelers.
But fewer passengers have been using TCAT since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because aviation authorities now require U.S.-bound passengers to undergo luggage checks at the airport, eliminating the advantage of TCAT’s advance check-in. The passport-control services may end as early as mid-July.
At its peak, about 550,000 people a year were checking their bags and going through embarkation procedures at TCAT, taking advantage of the comfortable limousine service, whose orange buses dropped them off right in front of the departure lobby in a little over an hour.
But Sept. 11 has apparently driven passengers to go directly to Narita by car or rail and brave the lines there.
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