The only hotel operating on the premises of Tokyo’s Haneda airport and the scene of many historic events shut down Thursday after four decades of operation.

The Haneda Tokyu Hotel will be demolished because it stands on state-owned land that will become part of a new international terminal to be built by 2009.

After it opened in August 1964, just before the Tokyo Olympic Games, the hotel witnessed the rapid transformation of the nation’s air travel industry.

Haneda was the nation’s largest gateway to overseas destinations until most international flights were transferred to Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture in 1978.

In August 1985, the hotel served as a gathering place for the relatives of more than 500 people who perished in a Japan Airlines jetliner crash.

It was also a refuge for passengers after they were released from a hijacked All Nippon Airways flight in July 1999.

A hotel employee recalled: “I remember not knowing what to do when the atmosphere got very tense. This hotel was the scene of many news stories.”

It will reopen as the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu in December in a new terminal currently under construction.

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