The Japanese and Chinese governments are looking to increase the number of flights linking Shanghai and Japanese cities to alleviate congestion and improve security, Japanese government and other sources said Monday.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N.’s civil aviation agency that proposed the plan, is aiming to expand the number of flights next spring, enabling Japan to cope with growing demand ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer.
The move comes as Chinese airlines started phasing in more flights to Japanese cities in late October to a record level following a bilateral accord in September relaxing rules on Chinese airlines’ flights to and from Narita International Airport.
Aviation authorities in Japan and China also agreed to eliminate restrictions on the number of flights connecting Beijing and Shanghai with regional airports in Japan.
Subject to the expansion are flight routes linking Shanghai and several Japanese airports including Narita, Nagoya and Fukuoka, which currently use a flight path over the island of Fukue in Nagasaki Prefecture.
There were only about 10 flights per day linking Shanghai and Japan using the path in 1983, but that has risen into the hundreds.
The number of increased flights and specific flight paths will be determined in the future by Japanese and Chinese aviation authorities, the sources said.
The ICAO expects the countries involved to reach a formal agreement early next year and start implementing the plan next spring, organization sources said.
“If the plan is realized, it would expand the transport capacity and contribute to a rise in the number of tourists to Japan,” a Japanese government source said.
Japan and China have been shouldering flight control operations at South Korea’s Flight Information Region, which is situated on the flight path between the two nations. The three countries are arranging to have South Korea take charge of flight control operations in line with the flight increase, the sources said.
The number of flights between Japan and China reached a record 1,130 for the winter timetable, which started Oct. 27, an increase of 230 from the summer schedule that began in March.