(Nikkei: February 23, 2016 – p. 2)
With the conclusion of the Japan-U.S. civil aviation talks, the number of flights from Haneda Airport to the United States will be increased. Up until now, there have only been nighttime landing and take-off slots at Haneda Airport and these slots only serve the West Coast of the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. As a result of the agreement, it is likely that daytime services between Tokyo and cities on the East Coast of the U.S., including New York, will begin this fall.
An increase in the number of flights from Haneda is good news for people who use the airport. It will also be more convenient for transit passengers. We hope the aviation agreement will increase travel between Japan and the U.S. and have a positive impact on businesses and tourism between the two countries.
However, further enhancements of metropolitan area airports are necessary. Amid the globalized world economy, improving the infrastructure of airports connecting Japan to the world is a high priority issue.
The lack of capacity at metropolitan area airports, Narita and Haneda, has been viewed as a problem for a long time. Potential demand is not being fulfilled. The reason Japan started late in offering low-cost carrier (LCC) services was that there was not much leeway for Japan to accept new airlines’ access because of the shortage of departure and arrival slots at airports.
Airline operators are constantly quarrelling over the allocation of landing and takeoff slots at Haneda Airport. Some carriers have that given up on their plans to use Narita Airport because there were no slots that were convenient for them. This has undermined Japan’s interests.
In 2014, Seoul’s two airports connected 137 cities worldwide, but Narita and Haneda only connected 92 cities. Japan’s two airports compare unfavorably with South Korea’s airports as hubs.
In view of the rapid increase in the number of foreign tourists and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we believe that enhancing Tokyo’s airports is an issue that Japan must address.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plans to increase the number of slots at Haneda by boosting the rate of runway usage through lifting the ban on flight routes over Tokyo.
Commercial districts such as Shinjuku and Shibuya are located directly under the new routes. We hope the ministry will sincerely address residents’ concerns about possible noise and falling objects, and build a consensus.
A plan has emerged for constructing a third runway at Narita Airport. We hope Narita International Airport Corporation will speed up its consultations with local municipalities, formulation of a financial plan, and assessment of demand.
The fixed notion that “Haneda is for domestic fights and Narita is tor international flights” should be challenged. We hope the ministry will seek out a new way to utilize the two airports in which Haneda is used for flights for business travelers and Narita is used for LCC services and flights to resorts.