To meet the growing demand of air travel to/from Japan and to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Tokyo’s main airports – Haneda and Narita – are making adjustments to accommodate more flights in a bid to stay competitive with Asia’s major air hubs.

Extended Runway Operations at Narita

For the first time since the airport opened, Narita Airport will extend the hours of operations of one of its runways (16R/34L) - the longest of two runways at the airport - starting in October. The new setup will allow for aircraft to take-off and land on the runway from 6AM to midnight is part of an agreement between Japan’s central government, Narita Airport, and government officials of Chiba prefecture and the surrounding areas. As part of the agreement, Narita Airport would work with the governments of the area to mitigate the effects of noise caused by arriving and departing aircraft.

Makoto Natsume, president of the NAA, said “There are still a slew of challenges for us to overcome, such as how to secure access to the airport during the period close to midnight. But we are determined to make the best use of the extra hour we have now secured.”

While Haneda Airport has started to accept more international flights, Narita still saw a 7% increase in passenger traffic in 2018 where it served over 35 million travelers.

Japan/US Agreement on Flight Routes to Haneda

Haneda will also see additional airspace for arriving and departing aircraft to use after the US and Japan reached an agreement on the use of US military-controlled airspace over part of Tokyo just west of Haneda.

The airspace – currently controlled by the US military stationed at Yokota Air Base since the post-World War II period – will see Japan control the new routes that can go through part of the area. The restrictions have been attributed to air traffic congestion in Tokyo, making departing and arriving flights to detour or fly at certain altitudes to avoid the airspace.

With the agreement, Haneda Airport is expecting to expand the number of flight slots from 60,000 to 99,000. “To achieve a government target of attracting 40 million foreign travelers to Japan in 2020, it is indispensable to enhance the function of Haneda airport,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami stated in a news conference.

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