Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is set to cater more international flights in a major upgrade aim to boost tourism to Japan ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Haneda, located at the heart of Tokyo and fourth busiest airport in the world, doubled its international service to 90,000 flights a year from 60,000, reports the Nikkei.
The overhaul, starting Sunday, will not only allow Haneda to handle more flights but will also see long-haul international flights arriving in the day instead of only at night.
Flights to Vietnam and the Philippines, daytime flights to London and Paris, as well as flights to Toronto and Doha, Qatar, will take off from Haneda. The airport is also expected to expand its routes to include 25 cities in 17 countries and regions by July.
Travelers have long preferred Haneda, situated near central Tokyo, over taking a two-hour trip from Narita Airport to reach the Japanese capital’s downtown.
“Haneda has reached a scale where it can serve as a gateway to the skies of Tokyo alongside Narita Airport,” said President Masayuki Sakurai of Tokyo International Air Terminal.
All Nippon Airways, which received 11 of the coveted landing slots at Haneda over its rival Japan Airlines’ five, said it was a “memorable day”.
“By better linking domestic and international, we can gain back travellers from regional airports in Japan, who have been using airports overseas instead,” ANA president Osamu Shinobe said.
JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki said the boost will benefit people from all over Japan because it makes flying all over the world much easier.
“I have always said that I wanted Haneda to become a gateway between domestic and international lines, and I think we made the first step towards it today.”
He added, “Competition helps improve convenience for travelers. We’ll strive to stay in the game.”
Japan’s transport ministry is aiming to boost international flights at both Haneda and Narita airport in anticipation of an influx of visitors at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Last year, Haneda handled 1.29 million overseas travellers. The government is expecting 20 million visitors a year by the 2020 Games.
By Maesie Bertumen
Main image: Flickr/darren webb