National

Half of new slots at Haneda airport to be given to Japanese and U.S. airlines

Kyodo

Japanese and U.S. airlines will be allocated about half of the roughly 50 slots to be created at Tokyo’s Haneda airport in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, transport minister Keiichi Ishii said Tuesday.

Japanese airlines will be given 12 daily slots and U.S. airlines will be given another 12, Ishii said, while indicating that the remainder will be allocated in accordance with the government target of attracting 40 million foreign travelers to Japan in 2020.

“We will use (the new slots) to expand the number of visitors to Japan and enhance Japan’s international competitiveness,” he said at a news conference.

Japan plans to introduce new flight paths over central Tokyo in the spring of 2020 to create the new arrival and departure slots at Haneda, which was already the world’s fourth busiest airport in terms of total passenger traffic in 2017, according to Airports Council International.

As many local residents are concerned about noise and objects falling from aircraft, the transport ministry has been holding a series of briefing sessions on the expected impact of the planned increase in flights at Haneda.

“We will make use of formal procedures and decide (on the plan) after gaining local consent,” said Ishii.

Last month, Japan reached a basic agreement with the United States to manage new routes for commercial flights in U.S. military-controlled airspace over part of Tokyo and surrounding areas.

The agreement enables Japan to expand annual arrival and departure slots for international flights at Haneda from the current 60,000 to 99,000 before the 2020 games. The airspace, just west of the airport, has been controlled by U.S. forces since the postwar period.

The flight restrictions have forced numerous commercial flights in and out of the airport to detour or fly at certain altitudes to avoid it, causing air traffic congestion.

The tiered airspace, currently controlled by the U.S. military headquartered at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, has different levels at altitudes between about 2,400 and 7,000 meters and stretches over Tokyo and eight other prefectures.

Under the deal, Japan will control the new routes that will go through part of the airspace.

Located about 15 kilometers from central Tokyo, Haneda airport resumed hosting international flights in 2010 and has rapidly expanded services in recent years under the government policy of promoting tourism.

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