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A new, five-story international terminal building and a fourth (2,500-meter) runway opened Oct. 21 at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. On Oct. 31, regular international flights will resume there for the first time since 2002.

Haneda airport originally served as a hub for both domestic and international flights, but once Narita airport opened in 1978 the government pushed the policy of concentrating international flights there instead. The Hatoyama administration reversed this policy — a move that will be welcomed by passengers tired of the time and expense it takes to travel to and from Narita from Tokyo and beyond.

Airline and airport companies as well as the government must prepare for the upcoming deregulation of international flights and the entry of low-cost carriers into the market. Haneda now handles domestic flights and offers chartered flights to and from Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Once international flights resume at Haneda, the airport will have links with 17 cities in Asia, Europe and North America, including Bangkok, Singapore, Paris, London, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver.

For the time being, 30,000 daytime slots and another 30,000 nighttime and early morning slots will be allocated annually for international flights. In fiscal 2013, the daytime slots will double, with the total reaching 90,000. Even so, this figure is less than half Narita’s annual 200,000 slots.

As it would be impossible for Haneda alone to handle the increasing demand for international flights, Haneda and Narita must be operated together in a coordinated, efficient manner. Already a limited express train links Tokyo and Narita in 36 minutes, and local governments have agreed to increase Narita’s total annual slots to 300,000 in five years.

In addition to its convenient location in the nation’s capital, Haneda airport’s other big advantage is that it has links with 48 local airports. Efforts should be made to boost tourist travel to Japan’s countryside by offering convenient connections between international and domestic flights.

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