Tokyo Narita could see traffic grow by 50% if new plans are successfully implemented

Logo: Narita AirportThere can be few airports that have met with such opposition to their building as Tokyo’s international gateway airport at Narita which (eventually) opened in 1978. The resultant (and still on-going) battles with local land owners encouraged Japan to build other big new airports offshore where the fish tend to complain rather less.

Image: Narita Airport’s planned 2nd runway
Narita’s second runway should be extended from 2,180m to 2,500m in 2010. The airport believes that annual aircraft movements could be increased by 50% from 200,000 to 300,000.

The original plans for Narita to have two full-length parallel runways has still not materialised though the second runway should be extended from 2,180 metres to 2,500 metres in 2010. Combined with airspace, air route, taxiway and terminal improvements the airport recently announced its belief that annual aircraft movements could be increased 50% from 200,000 per annum to 300,000.

Last year the main runway A handled 132,123 movements while the shorter runway B handled just 61,625. According to the Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA) airlines from as many as 40 countries are currently unable to gain the slots they want to start new services to the airport.

Chart: Tokyo Narita traffic 1992-2007
Source: NAA

Passenger numbers have grown by, on average, less than 1% per annum in the last three years with growth coming primarily from non-Japanese travellers. The traffic slump in 2003 was caused by the outbreak of SARS in Asia which seems to have worried the local population rather more than visiting passengers. In 2007 the average number of passengers per movement at Narita was 184.

Chart: Tokyo Narita airport seasonality
Source: NAA

The airport’s seasonality profile is remarkably flat with aircraft movements in 2007 consistently between 15,800 and 16,600 in every month except February.

Northwest has major base connecting US to Asia

Unsurprisingly JAL and ANA are the two leading airlines at the airport but account for only 40% of all flights and 35% of all seats. JALways is an independent subsidiary of JAL which operates an all 747 fleet to primarily leisure destinations such as Hawaii and Bali.

Chart: Top 12 airlines at NRT
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 28 April 2008

Northwest operates a major base at the airport and has services from seven US airports with onward connections to China, Guam, Hong Kong, Korea, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Three other US carriers also feature among the top 12 airlines along with flag carriers from China, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

Image: Singapore Airlines plane flying into Narita Airport
Tokyo will become the fourth city to receive A380 commercial flights when Singapore Airlines begins services to Narita on 20 May.

The leading European airline is Air France, which operates 20 weekly flights to Paris CDG followed by Lufthansa, which connects Frankfurt and Munich daily, and British Airways, which has two flights per day from Heathrow.

US is leading country market

In terms of seat capacity the US is by far the leading country market for Narita flights with over one-fifth of all seats. Asian countries dominate the rest of the top 12 with the UK the leading European country, just edging out France and Germany. Apart from BA, daily services between the UK and Narita are also provided by ANA, JAL and Virgin Atlantic.

Chart: Top 12 country markets to/from NRT
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 28 April 2008

A total of 38 countries are served from Narita each week on 1,584 departing flights operated by 51 different airlines. The average aircraft size is currently a massive 281 seats per movement, possibly the highest of any major airport in the world and highlighting the runway capacity problem. This figure compares with Hong Kong (259 seats per movement), Bangkok (256), Singapore (250), Dubai (236) and London Heathrow (195).


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