• Kyodo News

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Construction of a fourth runway at Tokyo’s Haneda airport to boost capacity for domestic and short-haul international flights began Friday with government officials and contractors attending a ceremony near the site to pray for safety.

The offshore 2,500-meter runway is scheduled to begin operating in October 2010, 10 months behind schedule, as a result of a delay in the start of construction that was originally scheduled for last spring. Compensation talks with some local fishermen took time to complete, according to government officials.

Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry officials, members of a consortium of 15 firms, including Kajima Corp., and others attended the Friday ceremony at the waterfront airport.

Along with the new runway, construction of a new air traffic control tower and a new terminal for international flights will also get under way for the new expanded gateway for the capital.

The tower will be 116 meters tall, the world’s third tallest, according to airport officials.

Once the runway begins operating, the airport will be able to accommodate up to around 410,000 takeoffs and landings a year, a roughly 40 percent increase from the current capacity.

While most of takeoff-landing slots are allocated to domestic services, about 30,000 are expected to be for international flights. Scheduled short-haul flights are expected to open between Tokyo and cities mostly in Asia.

Haneda currently operates a limited number of flights to and from Seoul’s Gimpo airport. They are technically chartered flights. International flights for Tokyo are handled by Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture.

Workers are scheduled first to undertake preparatory installation of buoys on the sea and other tasks, followed by full-fledged work to enhance the seabed from around April 6.

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