Japan’s new government is looking at plans to turn Tokyo’s Haneda Airport into a 24-hour international facility to back up the capital’s outlying Narita International Airport.
Transport minister Seiji Maehara told reporters: “By removing the principle of keeping apart domestic and international (services between the airports), we would like to gradually turn Haneda into an international airport that can operate on a 24-hour (basis).”
While Haneda is located within Tokyo’s city boundaries Narita is around two hours from central Tokyo by limousine bus and over an hour by train. Haneda is connected by several rail lines, a monorail line and scheduled bus services, reaching all parts of Tokyo.
With the opening of Narita in 1978, the former international airport at Haneda lost most of its international flights and became Tokyo’s domestic hub. Subsequently some north-Asian regional flights began to operate from Haneda to South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong and mainland China.
Haneda handles 66 million passengers a year and is the fourth largest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers.
An expansion project due to be completed next year, will see the airport able to handle 90 million passengers a year, when a fourth runway is opened.
Haneda is the main domestic base of Japan Airlines and All-Nippon Airlines as well as several of Japan’s low-cost carriers, such as StarFlyer and Skynet Asia Airways.
Currently substantial numbers of travellers from Japanese provincial airports find it more convenient to connect to international flights at Korea’s Incheon International Airport Maehara said.