February 6, 2015
Japanese Transport Ministry Panel announces plan to create a combined 79,000 new slots for Tokyo’s two main airports
While many sporting eyes are clearly focussed on the Olympics in Brazil next year, Japan is already working towards expanding the number of flight slots in advance of the expected need for the 2020 Olympics they are hosting. It is anticipated the bulk of international flights will target Narita airport in Chiba, the main international gateway, so a transport ministry panel has proposed improving flight control functions and adding taxiways between airport terminals and runways. These plans should see a 30,000 increase in the annual number of slots by March this year, taking the total up to 300,000.
Tokyo International Airport in Haneda currently has 447,000 slots and this is expected to increase by 49,000 to 496,000 slots through the allowance of flights directly over Tokyo. On the basis that both proposals come to fruition, this will basically mean that combined, the two airports should see flight arrivals increase by 100 on a daily basis. Hitoshi Ieda, chairman of the panel and a professor at the University of Tokyo has stated that the increase in slots should be used mainly for international flights, where demand is expected to grow substantially.
Beyond 2020 there are also plans to add one additional runway to each airport. However that will be easier said than done. In truth, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has not yet ‘been completed’ based on original plans owing to the actions of farmers occupying surrounding land. The same problem exists at Narita where back in 1978 what became known as ‘guerillas’ invaded the control tower, smashing equipment and delaying the opening of the airport by two months. As an international airport for Japan’s largest city, Narita’s location some forty miles to the east of the city is hardly ideally located either.