Narita International Airport
Learn more about Narita International Airport
|Narita International Airport|
|IATA: NRT - ICAO: RJAA|
<tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Airport type</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">Commercial</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Operator</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA)</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Serves</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">Tokyo</td></tr>
|Elevation AMSL||141 ft (43 m)|
|Number of Passengers||31,057,252|
|Amount of Cargo||2,373,133 t|
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. It is the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan, busiest air freight hub in Japan, and third-busiest air freight hub in the world. It serves as the main international hub of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, and as an Asian regional hub for Northwest Airlines and United 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. While Tokyo is the source of much of Narita Airport's traffic, the airport is located far from central Tokyo (1 hour by the fastest train) and in a different prefecture. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), located in Tokyo proper, is the busiest airport in Japan and the fourth-busiest in the world, even though it handles very little international traffic.
The construction and expansion of Narita Airport in Japanese history has been compared to the role of the Vietnam War in the history of the United States, as it led to one of the most infamous (and violent) conflicts between the Japanese government and the Japanese population. The conflict was a major factor in deciding to build the new Osaka and Nagoya airports (Kansai and Chūbu respectively) offshore on reclaimed land, instead of again trying to expropriate land in heavily populated areas.
In 1962, the Japanese government began investigating possible alternatives to the crowded Haneda Airport, 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, evinced by the large-scale student riots in Tokyo in 1960. Beside locals who had lived in the area for many years and were unwilling to relinquish their land, many Japanese in the "new left" opposed the construction of Narita Airport, reasoning that the real purpose for the new airport was to provide additional facilities for US military aircraft in the event of war with the Soviet Union. In the late 1960s, a group of local residents combined with student activists and left-wing political parties formed a terrorist 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 used a combination of popular appeals, lawsuits and actual guerilla warfare tactics to hinder the government's development plan.
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, strangely 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 area farmers were arrested and more than 1,000 police and villagers were injured in fights. Some villagers 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. 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. This delayed 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. 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.
JAL moved its main international hub from Haneda to Narita, and Northwest and Pan Am also moved their Asian regional hubs from Haneda to Narita. Pan Am sold its Pacific Division, including its Narita hub, to United Airlines in February 1986. ANA began scheduled international flights from Narita to Guam in 1986 and expanded its presence at the airport through the 1990s to become the #2 carrier at the airport after JAL.
Under the original plan, New Tokyo International Airport was to have three runways: two parallel northwest/southeast runways 4,000 m in length and an intersecting northeast/southwest runway 3,200 m 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.
On November 261986, 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, although some farmers who refused to give up their land were forced to keep henhouses close to the threshold of the new runway. This runway opened on April 182002, in time for the World Cup events held in Japan that year. However, its final length of 2,180 m, just over half of its original plan length, leaves it too short to accommodate Boeing 747s. Phase II also involved a second passenger terminal, completed by Takenaka Corporation on December 61992.
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.
In the late 1980s, the Union constructed two steel towers, 30.8 m (102 ft) and 62.3 m (206 ft) respectively, blocking the northbound approach path to the main runway. In January 1990, the Chiba District Court ordered the towers dismantled without compensation to the Union; the Supreme Court of Japan upheld this verdict as constitutional in 1993.
 Current issues
On April 1, 2004, New Tokyo International Airport was privatized and officially renamed Narita International Airport, reflecting its popular designation since its opening. Following privatization, the airport has reached record traffic levels, and several construction projects are ongoing.
In addition to the ongoing political disputes, which have lessened in severity over the years, 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.
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 Haneda Airport. The Narita Rapid Railway, scheduled to open in 2010, will alleviate the problem to some extent by shaving 20 minutes off the travel time.
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. 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. Various plans have also been proposed for a third Tokyo airport, either located on the Kujukuri Beach in eastern Chiba or on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has proposed redeveloping Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo as a civil airport.
 Famous incidents
- 1985: On 22 June, a piece of luggage exploded while being transferred to an Air India flight, killing two baggage handlers. The luggage had originated at Vancouver International Airport. Fifty-five minutes later, another piece of luggage, also originating from Vancouver, exploded on Air India Flight 182, killing all onboard.
- 1994: On 11 December, Philippine Airlines Flight 434 was en route from Cebu to Narita when a bomb on board exploded, killing a passenger. The airliner was able to make an emergency landing in Okinawa. Authorities later found out that the bomb was a test run for the Project Bojinka plot, which targeted several U.S. airliners departing Narita on 21 January, 1995 as part of its first phase.
- 2001: In May, Kim Jong-nam, the son of North Korean President Kim Jong-il, was arrested at New Tokyo International Airport for travelling with a forged passport, and was deported to the People's Republic of China.
- 2004: On July 13, Bobby Fischer was detained at Narita Airport for allegedly using an invalid U.S. passport while trying to board a Japan Airlines flight to Manila. He left Japan a year later after obtaining asylum in Iceland.
- November 19, 2006, an Air Canada 767-300 flying from Shanghai to Vancouver suffered severe turbulence, and made an emergency landing at Narita airport. 4 flight attendants were sent to hospital.
 Terminals and airlines
Narita Airport has two separate terminals with separate underground train stations. The only connection between the terminals is by shuttle bus (buses are available both inside and outside the security area): there is no pedestrian connection.
 Terminal 1
Terminal 1 uses a satellite terminal design. The landside of the terminal is divided into a North Wing (kita-uingu), Central Building (chuo-biru), and South Wing (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, and Satellite 4 (gates 41-47) is located at the far end of Satellite 3.
The South Wing and Satellite 5 opened in June 2006 as a terminal for Star Alliance carriers. 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. It is also one of the first airport terminals to have unified check-in desks for an airline alliance, separated by class of service rather than by carrier.  SkyTeam also plans to unify its operations in Terminal 1 by early 2007.
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.
- Aeroméxico (Mexico City, Tijuana)
- Aircalin (Noumea)
- Air Canada (Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver)
- Air Central (Nagoya, Sendai)
- Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle)
- Air Japan (Honolulu)
- Air Tahiti Nui (Papeete)
- Alitalia (Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino)
- American Airlines* (Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York-JFK)
- All Nippon Airways (Bangkok, Beijing, Chicago-O'Hare, Dalian, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hiroshima, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kaohsiung, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Nagoya, New York-JFK, Osaka-Itami, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Qingdao, San Francisco, Sapporo-Chitose, Sendai, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenyang, Singapore, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan, Washington-Dulles, Xiamen)
- Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon)
- Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
- British Airways* (London-Heathrow)
- Cathay Pacific* (Hong Kong, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)
- Dragonair (Hong Kong)
- EVA Air (Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)
- Finnair* (Helsinki)
- Ibex Airlines (Hiroshima, Komatsu, Sapporo-Chitose, Sendai)
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam)
- Korean Air (Busan, Jeju, Los Angeles, Seoul-Incheon)
- Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich)
- MIAT Mongolian Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Ulanbaatar)
- Northwest Airlines (Bangkok, Busan, Beijing, Detroit, Guam, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Manila, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland (OR), Saipan, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore)
- Scandinavian Airlines System (Copenhagen)
- Shanghai Airlines (Shanghai-Pudong)
- Singapore Airlines (Bangkok, Los Angeles, Singapore)
- Swiss International Air Lines (Zürich)
- Thai Airways International (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket)
- Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk)
- United Airlines (Bangkok, Chicago-O'Hare, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan, Washington-Dulles)
- Uzbekistan Airways (Tashkent)
- Virgin Atlantic (London-Heathrow)
* Will move to Terminal 2 in winter 2006.
 Terminal 2
Terminal 2 is divided into a main building (honkan) and satellite, both of which are designed around linear concourses. The two are connected by a "shuttle," which was designed by Japan Otis Elevator and was the first cable-driven people mover in Japan.
Check-in and departures are on the third floor. 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 (A65, A66, and A67) 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 currently in T1 plan to move to T2 in late 2006 so as to ease connections to and from JAL flights pending JAL's formal entry into the alliance.
- Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
- Air China (Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Shanghai-Pudong)
- Air India (Bangkok, Delhi, Mumbai)
- Air New Zealand* (Auckland, Christchurch)
- Air Niugini (Port Moresby)
- Air Pacific (Nadi)
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines (Bangkok, Dhaka)
- China Airlines (Honolulu, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)
- China Eastern Airlines (Beijing, Shanghai-Pudong, Xi'an)
- China Southern Airlines (Changchun, Dalian, Guangzhou)
- Continental Airlines* (Guam, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark)
- Continental Micronesia (Guam)
- Delta Air Lines* (Atlanta)
- EgyptAir (Cairo)
- Garuda Indonesia (Denpasar, Jakarta)
- Iran Air (Beijing, Tehran-Mehrabad)
- Japan Airlines (Amsterdam, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Busan, Chicago-O'Hare, Dalian, Delhi, Denpasar, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guam, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kona, Kuala Lumpur, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Nagoya, New York-JFK, Osaka-Itami, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Qingdao, Rome-Fiumicino, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Sapporo Chitose, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Vancouver, Xi'an, Xiamen, Zurich)
- Malaysia Airlines (Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur)
- Pakistan International Airlines (Beijing, Islamabad, Karachi)
- Philippine Airlines (Cebu, Manila)
- Qantas (Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney)
- SriLankan Airlines (Colombo, Male)
- Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City)
- Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen)
* Will move to Terminal 1 in early 2007.
 Cargo carriers
- Air Hong Kong
- Lufthansa Cargo
- Nippon Cargo Airlines
- Polar Air Cargo
- Singapore Airlines Cargo
- United Parcel Service
- ANA CARGO
- JAL Cargo
 Ground transportation
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.
At present, Narita Airport has two rail connections, operated by Keisei Electric Railway and JR. A third line, the Narita Rapid Railway, is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2010. 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.
The most expensive train (and one of the fastest) to the airport is the Narita Express. Journey times between the airport and Tokyo Station vary from as little as 53 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the time of departure. The price from the airport to Tokyo station is 3,140 yen in ordinary class.
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.
After Tokyo Station (when coming from Narita), some trains split into two - with one part continuing on the Yokosuka Line to Yokohama (90 min.) and Ofuna (110 min.) and the other part taking the Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station (80 min.), then the Chūō Main Line to Tachikawa (105 min.), Hachioji (115 min.) and Takao (2 hr.), or the Saikyo Line to Omiya (2 hr. 15 min.).
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.
Keisei's Skyliner limited express travels to Nippori Station in 51 minutes - and Keisei Ueno Station in 56 minutes. 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. The price of the Skyliner from Narita Airport to Keisei Ueno Station is 1,920 yen.
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. There are between six and eight daily direct trains from Haneda to Narita, taking about two hours, but only one daily direct service from Narita to Haneda (rather inconvenient leaving Narita at either 6:07 or 7:30 in the morning). In other cases, a transfer of trains must take place at a station along the Keisei line. Trains running through to the Asakusa Line make stops at several subway stations in central Tokyo, including Asakusa, Nihombashi and Shinagawa, making them convenient for some travellers.
Airport Rapid Limited (エアポート快特) trains, which make limited stops on the Asakusa and Keikyu lines, are denoted on signboards by an aircraft icon.
Keisei and Shibayama Railway trains also serve Higashi-Narita Station, located between the two terminals, but this station is currently only useful to travellers moving between the airport and neighborhoods convenient to Shibayama Chiyoda Station immediately east of the airport.
There are regular bus services to regional transport hubs, although these are often slower than the trains because of traffic jams. Many bus companies operate to and from the airport, charging fares from 3,000 yen for central Tokyo to 4,000 yen for outer suburbs. Operators include:
- Airport Limousine to center-city stations including Tokyo City Air Terminal, Haneda Airport and major hotels
- Keisei Bus to suburban transport hubs
- Chiba Kotsu to Saitama, Yamanashi and Fukushima
Taxi service is available, although it is usually prohibitively expensive for single travellers because of the great distance from the airport to the city. Fares are based on a zone system; trips to central Tokyo range from 14,000 to 20,000 yen (plus around 1,450 yen for expressway tolls, also late night/early morning surcharges). Shared ride services no longer operate from Narita.
- In Japanese, the term "Narita divorce" (成田離婚 Narita rikon?) is often used to refer to divorces that immediately follow after a married couple's honeymoon, this due many married couples go to foreign countries for their honeymoon using Narita. The term was then used as the title of a popular television drama in Japan. 
- Some Japanese internet users have coined the term nariban (ナリバン) parodying Taliban, to refer to those who argue that Narita Airport's main purpose was as an emergency military base. 
- 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.
 External links
Historical and political:
- Todd Crowell, "An end to the 39-year war," July 30, 2005
- "Editorial - Narita fiasco: never again," The Japan Times, July 26, 2005
- Stephan Hauser, "Field of dreams - filled with concrete," Tokyo Journal, Feb. 2000
- Appeal to Stop Use of the Second Runway at Narita Airportde:Narita International Airport
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