Narita International Airport (成田国際空港 Narita Kokusai Kūkō) (IATA: NRT, ICAO: RJAA) is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. It is located 57.5 km (35.7 mi) east of Tokyo Station and 7 km (4.3 mi) east-southeast of Narita Station in the city of Narita, with some portions extending into the adjacent town of Shibayama.
Narita handles the majority of international passenger traffic to and from Japan, and is also a major connecting point for air traffic between Asia and the Americas. The airport handled 35,478,146 passengers in 2007. It is the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan, busiest air freight hub in Japan, and eighth-busiest air freight hub in the world. It serves as the main international hub of Japan`s Flag carrier Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Nippon Cargo Airlines. It also serves as an Asian hub for the US based Delta Air Lines and as a focus city for United Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Under Japanese law, it is classified as a first class airport.
The airport was known as New Tokyo International Airport (新東京国際空港 Shin-Tōkyō Kokusai Kūkō) until 2004, but was commonly called "Tokyo Narita" even before it was officially renamed to differentiate it from Tokyo International Airport, commonly called "Tokyo Haneda."
By the early 1960s, Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) was quickly becoming overcrowded. Its location on Tokyo Bay made further expansion difficult, as a large amount of new land would have to be created in order to build more runways and terminals. While this strategy was used for later airport projects in Japan (such as Kansai International Airport), the government believed that landfill in the bay would be too costly and difficult, and would hinder the development of the Port of Tokyo. Haneda also suffered from airspace restrictions due to its central location and proximity to US airbases, so the government feared that further expansion of Haneda would lead to overcrowding in the sky.
In 1962, the Japanese government began investigating possible alternatives to Haneda, and proposed a "New Tokyo International Airport" to take over Haneda's international flights. The rapid postwar growth of Tokyo caused a shortage of available flat land in the Kantō region, so the only viable location for the airport was in rural Chiba Prefecture. Initially, surveyors proposed placing the airport in the village of Tomisato; however, the site was moved 5 km northeast to the villages of Sanrizuka and Shibayama, where the Imperial Household had a large farming estate. This development plan was made public in 1966.
At the time, the socialist movement still possessed considerable strength in Japan, evidenced by the large-scale student riots in Tokyo in 1960. Many in the "new left" such as Chukaku-ha opposed the construction of Narita Airport, reasoning that the real purpose for the new airport was to promote capitalism and to provide additional facilities for US military aircraft in the event of war with the Soviet Union. These individuals sought to ally with the more conservative local farmers who simply did not want to give up their land for the airport.
Around 1966, a group of local residents combined with student activists and left-wing political parties formed a popular resistance group known as the Sanrizuka-Shibayama Union to Oppose the Airport (三里塚・芝山連合空港反対同盟 Sanrizuka-Shibayama Rengo Kūkō Hantai Dōmei), which remained active until fracturing in 1983. Similar strategies had already been employed during the postwar era to block the expansion of Tachikawa Air Base and other US military facilities in Japan. In June and July 1966, the Union sent formal protests to the mayor of Narita, the governor and vice-governor of Chiba Prefecture and the prefectural office of the Liberal Democratic Party. In November 1967, when the Transport Ministry began surveying the perimeter of the airport, Union members set up roadblocks. The Zengakuren radical student union then began sending students to Narita to help the local farmers.
Eminent domain power had rarely been used in Japan up to that point. Traditionally, the Japanese government would offer to relocate homeowners in regions slated for expropriation, rather than condemn their property and pay compensation as provided by law. In the case of Narita Airport, this type of cooperative expropriation did not occur: some residents went as far as using terror by threatening to burn down new homes of anyone who would voluntarily move out.
Under the 1966 plan, the airport would have been completed in 1971, but due to the ongoing resettlement disputes, not all of the land for the airport was available by then. Finally, in 1971, the Japanese government began forcibly expropriating land. 291 protesters were arrested and more than 1,000 police, villagers and student militants were injured in a series of riots, notably on 16 September 1971 when three policemen were killed in a riot involving thousands. Some protesters chained themselves to their homes and refused to leave.
Takenaka Corporation constructed the first terminal building, which was completed in 1972. The first runway took several more years due to constant fights with the Union and sympathizers, who occupied several pieces of land necessary to complete the runway and temporarily built large towers in the runway's path. The runway was completed and the airport scheduled to open on March 30, 1978, but this plan was disrupted when, on March 26, 1978, a group armed with Molotov cocktails drove into the airport in a burning car, broke into the control tower and destroyed much of its equipment, causing approx. $500,000 in damages and delaying the opening by another two months, to May 20, 1978.
Although the airport did open, it opened under a level of security unprecedented in Japan. The airfield was surrounded by opaque metal fencing and overlooked by guard towers staffed with riot police. 14,000 security police were present at the airport's opening and were met by 6,000 protesters; a Japanese newscaster remarked at the time that "Narita resembles nothing so much as Saigon Airport during the Vietnam War." Protestors attacked police on the opening day with rocks and firebombs while police responded with water cannon; on the other side of Tokyo, a separate group of protestors claimed responsibility for cutting the power supply to an air traffic control facility at Tokorozawa, which shut down most air traffic in the Tokyo area for several hours.
The Diet of Japan passed a special statute, the Emergency Measures Act Relating to the Preservation of Security at New Tokyo International Airport (新東京国際空港の安全確保に関する緊急措置法), specifically banning the construction and use of buildings for violent and coercive purposes relating to the new airport. Passengers arriving at the airport were subject to baggage and travel document searches before even entering the terminal, in an attempt to keep anti-airport activists and terrorists out of the facility.
The conflicts at Narita were a major factor in the decision to build Kansai International Airport in Osaka offshore on reclaimed land, instead of again trying to expropriate land in heavily populated areas.
Japan`s flag carrier, Japan Airlines moved its main international hub from Haneda to Narita, and Northwest and Pan American also moved their Asian regional hubs from Haneda to Narita. Pan American sold its Pacific Division, including its Narita hub, to United Airlines in February 1986. All Nippon Airways began scheduled international flights from Narita to Guam in 1986.
Original expansion plans
New Tokyo International Airport was originally envisioned to have five runways, but the initial protests in 1965 led to a down-scaling of the plan to three runways: two parallel northwest/southeast runways 4,000 metres (13,123 ft) in length and an intersecting northeast/southwest runway 3,200 metres (10,499 ft) in length. Upon the airport's opening in 1978, only one of the parallel runways was completed; the other two runways were delayed to avoid aggravating the already tense situation surrounding the airport. The original plan also called for a high-speed rail line, the Narita Shinkansen, to connect the airport to central Tokyo, but this project was also cancelled with only some of the necessary land obtained.
By 1986, the strengthening Japanese yen was causing a surge of foreign business and leisure travel from Japan, which made Narita's capacity shortage more apparent. However, eight families continued to own slightly less than 53 acres (21 ha) of land on the site which would need to be expropriated in order to complete the other two runways. Although the government could legally force a sale of the land, it elected not to do so in order to avoid aggravating the situation. By 1992, Narita was handling 22 million passengers a year, despite only having a design capacity of 13 million.
On November 26, 1986, the airport authority began work on Phase II, a new runway north of the airport's original main runway. To avoid the problems that plagued the first phase, the Minister of Transport promised in 1991 that the expansion would not involve expropriation. Residents in surrounding regions were compensated for the increased noise-pollution with home upgrades and soundproofing.
A second passenger terminal opened in December 1992 at a cost of $1.36 billion. The new terminal had approximately 1.5 times the space of the older terminal, but its anti-congestion benefits were delayed because of the need to close and renovate much of the older terminal. The airport's land situation also meant that the taxiway to the new terminal was one-way for much of its length, and that taxi times between the terminal and runway were up to 30 minutes.
The second runway opened on April 17, 2002, in time for the World Cup events held in Japan and Korea that year. However, its final length of 2,180 m, much shorter than its original plan length (2500m), left it too short to accommodate Boeing 747s. The new runway opened up additional slots, particularly for carriers from other Asian countries, who were favored disproportionately over American and European incumbents. In particular, Taiwan flag carriers China Airlines and EVA Air were granted slots upon opening of the new runway and were able to move their Tokyo operations to Narita from Haneda Airport, where they had been operating since the opening of Narita in order to avoid frustrating Japanese relations with the People's Republic of China.
Through the end of the 1980s, Narita Airport's train station was located fairly far from the terminal, and passengers faced either a long walk or a bus ride (at an additional charge and subject to random security screenings). Transport Minister Shintaro Ishihara, now governor of Tokyo, pressed airport train operators JR and Keisei Railway to connect their lines directly to the airport's terminals, and opened up the underground station that would have accommodated the Shinkansen for regular train service. Direct train service to Terminal 1 began on March 19, 1991, and the old Narita Airport Station was renamed Higashi-Narita Station.
The Japanese government has invested in several infrastructure projects in order to address the demands of airport neighbors. The largest of these is the Shibayama Railway, a short railway connection between the Keisei Main Line and the area immediately east of Narita Airport. This line opened in 2002 with government and NAA support after extensive demands from Shibayama residents, and provides a direct rail link from Shibayama to Narita City, Chiba City and central Tokyo. Another such project is the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences in Shibayama Town, which draws tourists and student groups to the area.
In 2003, a Narita International Airport Corporation Act (成田国際空港株式会社法) was passed to provide for the privatization of the airport. As part of this change, on April 1, 2004, New Tokyo International Airport was officially renamed Narita International Airport, reflecting its popular designation since its opening. The airport was also moved from government control to the authority of a new Narita International Airport Corporation.
Notable accidents and incidents
Following privatization, the airport has reached record traffic levels, and several construction projects are ongoing.
Narita's 2,180-metre (7,152 ft) Runway B was extended to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft), which will allow increased use by heavy aircraft such as Boeing 747s. The limitations of the shorter runway were made apparent in the 2009 crash of FedEx Express Flight 80, which shut down the longer Runway A and forced some heavy aircraft to divert to other airports. The extension opened on October 22, 2009. It will allow an additional 20,000 flights per year.
Several gates at Narita are also being refitted with double-decker jetbridges to accommodate the Airbus A380.
Arguments over slots and landing fees have plagued the busy airport. Because so many airlines want to use it, the Japanese aviation authorities have limited the number of flights each airline can operate from this airport, making the airport expensive for both airlines and their passengers.
Although the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has given Narita a monopoly on international air service to the Tokyo region, that monopoly has been gradually weakening. Haneda has had limited international service for some time, beginning with flights to Taiwan and later replaced by flights to Gimpo Airport in Seoul, and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. Following the construction of Haneda's Runway D in 2009, the government aims to transfer other international services to Haneda in order to relieve Narita's congestion and expansion problems. The Ministry of Transport continues to investigate the possibility of building a new reliever airport on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay or off the Kujukuri coast of Chiba Prefecture. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has proposed redeveloping Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo as a civil airport.
Hyakuri Airfield (Ibaraki Airport), opened in March 11, 2010, may relieve traffic for domestic passengers destined to/from Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures, and potentially those in Gunma. Technically, the runway there is large enough for jumbo jets. Shizuoka Airport, opened June 2009, may take away Numazu-Fuji area passengers that would otherwise come to Narita.
One of the most constant criticisms of the airport has been its distance from central Tokyo—an hour by the fastest train, and often longer by road due to traffic jams. The distance is even more problematic for residents and businesses in west Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, both of which are much closer to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).
The Narita Rapid Railway, which opened on July 17, 2010, will alleviate the problem to some extent by shaving 20 minutes off the travel time. The line's new Skyliner express trains with a maximum speed of 160 km/h are scheduled between Tokyo's Nippori Station and Airport Terminal 2 Station in 36 minutes, which compares favourably with other major airports worldwide. A new expressway, the North Chiba Road, is also under construction along the Narita Rapid Railway corridor. Improvements such as the Wangan Expressway have already shaved off travel time to Kanagawa Prefecture by bypassing Tokyo.
Narita Airport is the first Japanese airport to house millimeter wave scanners. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced in March 2010 that trials would be carried out at Narita from July 5 through September 10, 2010. Five types of machines are to be tested sequentially outside the Terminal 1 South Wing security checkpoint; the subjects are Japanese nationals who volunteer for trial screening, as well as airport security staff during hours when the checkpoint is closed.
Terminals, airlines, and destinations
Narita Airport has two separate terminals with separate underground train stations. Connection between the terminals is by shuttle bus (buses are available both inside and outside the security area. Buses inside the security is only for connecting passengers) and trains; there is no pedestrian connection.
Terminal 1 uses a satellite terminal design. The landside of the terminal is divided into a North Wing (北ウイング kita-uingu), Central Building (中央ビル chūō-biru), and South Wing (南ウイング minami-uingu). Two circular satellites, Satellites 1 (gates 11-18) and 2 (gates 21-24), are connected to the North Wing, Satellite 3 (gates 26-38) is a linear concourse connected to the Central Building,Check-in is processed on the fourth floor, and departures and immigration control are on the third floor. Arriving passengers clear immigration on the second floor, then claim their baggage and clear customs on the first floor. Most shops and restaurants are located on the fourth floor of the Central Building. The South Wing includes a duty free mall called "Narita Nakamise", the largest airport duty-free brand boutique mall in Japan.
The North Wing is dominated by SkyTeam carriers including Delta Air Lines which moved from Terminal 2 in 2007, shortly after a reciprocal move by Oneworld carriers American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. British Airways (Oneworld), Virgin Atlantic and Aircalin are the only non-SkyTeam carriers operating from the North Wing. Continental Airlines relocated to the South Wing on November 1, 2009 after joining Star Alliance. British Airways plans to move its operations to Terminal 2 in November 2010 in order to ease connections with Oneworld partner Japan Airlines.
The South Wing and Satellite 5 opened in June 2006 as a terminal for Star Alliance carriers. Today, all Star Alliance members use this wing, except for Air New Zealand and Egypt Air, which currently use Terminal 2. The following are non-Star Alliance members: EVA Air, MIAT, Uzbekistan Airways, Vladivostok, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The South Wing has seven stories, and the first floor contains facilities for domestic flights by ANA.  It is the first airport terminal in Japan to offer curbside check-in service and baggage reconnecting facilities for passengers connecting from international to domestic flights.
Terminal 2 is divided into a main building (honkan) and satellite, both of which are designed around linear concourses. The two are connected by the Terminal 2 Shuttle System, which was designed by Japan Otis Elevator and was the first cable-driven people mover in Japan.
Check-in and departures and Immigration control for arriving passengers is on the second floor, and baggage claim and customs are on the first floor.
For domestic flights, three gates (65, 66, and 67) in the main building are connected to both the main departures concourse and to a separate domestic check-in facility. Passengers connecting between domestic and international flights must exit the gate area, walk to the other check-in area, and then check in for their connecting flight.
Japan Airlines is currently the main operator in T2; several Oneworld carriers which used to be in T1 (except British Airways) moved their operations to T2 in early 2007 so as to ease connections to and from flights operated by oneworld partner Japan Airlines. Air New Zealand and EgyptAir (Star Alliance carriers), China Southern Airlines and Vietnam Airlines (SkyTeam carriers) and Emirates are the only non Oneworld carriers operating from Terminal 2.
Airlines and destinations
^1 Delta also operates "international" flights to Osaka-Kansai and Nagoya which allow connections to destinations in Asia and the United States.
Because of the large volume of foreign fish (especially tuna) imported by air for use in sushi restaurants, Narita Airport is the eighth-largest fishing port in Japan by tonnage.
Narita Heli Express operates charter flights between Narita, Tokyo Heliport, Saitama-Kawajima Heliport and Gunma Heliport from a dedicated helipad with connecting shuttle service to the two terminals.
Japan Airlines operates the Japan Airlines Narita Operation Center (日本航空成田オペレーションセンター Nihon Kōkū Narita Operēshon Sentā) at Narita Airport. The subsidiary airline JALways has its headquarters in the building.
Narita Airport has three rail connections, operated by JR East, Keisei Electric Railway and Narita Rapid Railway. Trains to and from Narita stop at Narita Airport Station (成田空港駅 Narita-kūkō-eki) in Terminal 1 and Airport Terminal 2 Station (空港第２ビル駅 Kūkō-daini-biru-eki) in Terminal 2. And Shibayama Railway stop at Higashi-Narita Station. Higashi-Narita is connected by a walkway to the Terminal 2.
The airport was originally planned to be served by the Narita Shinkansen, construction of which was started in 1974, but the same expropriation issues afflicting the airport also hit the new line and the plan was eventually officially abandoned in 1987. Direct train service to the terminal, on ordinary trains using a short spur track from previous right of way, thus only started in 1990, twelve years after the airport opened.
The most expensive train (and one of the fastest) to the airport is the Narita Express. Journey times between the airport and Tokyo Station in Chiyoda, Tokyo vary from 53 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the time of departure.
All Narita Express trains serve Narita Airport Terminal 1, Narita Airport Terminal 2 and Tokyo Station. Some trains also make additional stops between the airport and Tokyo – at Narita or at Chiba Station.
All seating on the Narita Express trains is reserved. The assigned seat number and car number are indicated on the tickets. Tickets can be purchased from agents in the arrivals hall of each terminal and from automatic ticket vending machines.
JR also offers rapid service Kaisoku Airport Narita trains to Tokyo Station, which take 90 minutes but cost less than the Narita Express. These trains stop at several stations on the Narita Line and Sobu Line en route to Tokyo. Most continue on to stops on the Yokosuka Line, going as far as Kurihama Station in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Keisei's Skyliner limited express connected to Narita Airport and Nippori Station in 36 minutes, Ueno Station in 41 minutes via the new Narita Sky Access Line, with trains running at up to 160 km/h.
The journey between Narita Airport and Nippori has the shortest time of any transportation link between the airport and central Tokyo. However, for travellers whose final destination is in the South of Tokyo or near Tokyo station, it can be quicker to take the Narita Express than to take the Skyliner and then make a connection at Nippori or Ueno.
As with the Narita Express, all seating on Skyliner trains is reserved. Seat allocations are indicated on the tickets, which can be purchased from agents in the airport terminal.
Regular Keisei trains cost about half as much as the Skyliner and are the cheapest rail connection to the airport, although they make many stops, are slow and are often crowded.
Keisei also offers connecting and through service from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport, a cooperative service with the Toei Asakusa Line and Keihin Kyuko Railway. Airport Rapid Limited (エアポート快特 Eapōto Kaitoku) trains, which make limited stops on the Asakusa and Keikyu lines, are denoted on signboards by an aircraft icon.
There are regular bus services to the Tokyo City Air Terminal in 55 minutes, and major hotels and railway stations in the Greater Tokyo Area in 35–120 minutes. These are often slower than the trains because of traffic jams. The chief operator of these services is Airport Transport Service under the "Friendly Airport Limousine" brand. Other operators include Keisei Bus, Chiba Kotsu and Narita Kuko Kotsu.
There is also overnight bus service to Kyoto and Osaka. Buses also travel to nearby US military bases, including Yokosuka Navy Base and Yokota Air Base.
Fixed rate taxi service to Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama is available. 14,000 yen – 28,600 yen (expressway tolls 2,250 yen – 2,850 yen are not included in the fixed fare, and need to be paid as a surcharge). Operated by Narita International Airport Taxi Council Members.
The main road link to Narita Airport is the Higashi-Kanto Expressway, which connects to the Shuto Expressway network at Funabashi, Chiba.
Helicopter service from Narita to Ark Hills building complex in near Roppongi in 35 minutes. 37,500 yen (roundtrip) – 45,000 yen (one way) per one person. Operated by Mori Building City Air Service
Japan Airlines offers this helicopter service for first class passengers as well as business class passengers traveling on full fare, Business Saver, or Business Saver 14 tickets. For travelers returning from the mainland US or Europe.
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