The proposed new operator of Narita airport may be faced with strict measures for environmental conservation and noise reduction.

The government is planning to submit a bill to the ongoing ordinary Diet session in early March that would establish the new entity in fiscal 2004.

The regulations would be stricter than those applied to the operator of Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture, sources said.

The proposed law also envisages a change in the airport’s official name, from New Tokyo International Airport to Narita International Airport. Residents in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, which hosts the airport, have requested the change.

The new entity, which would be a special company wholly owned by the state, is to replace the current operator, the New Tokyo International Airport Authority. The reorganization is a preliminary step toward privatizing the entity.

The bill says the new entity’s aim is to make the airport more convenient for passengers and other users and to contribute to boosting the competitiveness of Japanese industries and tourism.

The new operator would be required to submit business plans for government approval every business year. It would also need to submit balance sheets and other financial statements.

The bill proposes that the state be allowed to extend interest-free loans to the new company to fund facility construction and maintenance for the time being.

In addition, employees of the new airport operator would be subject to penalties of up to three years in prison for bribery, as other civil servants are. Workers at Japan Railway companies, created after the breakup of a former state-run entity, face similar rules, the sources said.

Narita airport is the nation’s largest international gateway.

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