National

Airlines prepare for 140 special flights set to arrive in Japan for imperial ceremony

Kyodo

Up to 140 aircraft carrying foreign dignitaries are expected to arrive at Haneda and Narita airports later this month, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday, when Japan holds a ceremony to proclaim the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito.

Representatives of more than 190 countries are scheduled to attend the emperor’s enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Oct. 22, with commercial air travelers likely to be affected — especially on Oct. 21 and 24 when many of the guests arrive and leave the country.

The government plans to have more flights arrive at Haneda in Tokyo than at Narita in Chiba Prefecture, since the former gives better access to the venue, according to the sources.

Among the expected guests are U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and the U.K.’s Prince Charles.

Emperor Naruhito ascended to the chrysanthemum throne on May 1, the day after his father, former Emperor Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in over 200 years. The purpose of the upcoming ceremony is to formally announce his enthronement before foreign and domestic leaders and representatives.

Already Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co., the two major Japanese carriers, have agreed to cancel a total of 72 flights at Haneda airport on Oct. 21 and 24 — when many arrivals and departures are expected — to minimize disruptions, and have asked passengers with reservations on routes affected to switch to different flights.

Arrangements are also being made for aircraft carrying representatives from Group of 20 countries to arrive at Haneda airport, the sources said.

Parking aprons will be prepared for around 20 airplanes at each airport, but the aircraft are expected to stand by at regional airports as there will not be enough space at the two airports over the period.

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