Narita International Airport

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Narita International Airport
Narita Kokusai Kūkō
Narita International Airport Logo.svg
The night view of Tokyo Narita Airport Terminal 1.JPG
WMO: 47686
Airport type Public
Operator Narita Airport Authority (NAA)
Serves Greater Tokyo Area
Location Narita, Chiba, Japan
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 41 m / 135 ft
Coordinates 35°45′55″N 140°23′08″E / 35.76528°N 140.38556°E / 35.76528; 140.38556Coordinates: 35°45′55″N 140°23′08″E / 35.76528°N 140.38556°E / 35.76528; 140.38556
NRT is located in Chiba Prefecture
Location in Chiba Prefecture
Direction Length Surface
m ft
16R/34L[1] 4,000 13,123 Asphalt
16L/34RA 2,500 8,202 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 35,379,408
Cargo (metric tonnes) 1,940,628
Aircraft movements 221,692
Sources: Japanese Narita International Airport Co., Ltd [2]
:A.^ Extended from 2,180 m (7,152 ft) in fall 2009.

Narita International Airport (成田国際空港 Narita Kokusai Kūkō?) (IATA: NRTICAO: RJAA), also known as Tokyo Narita Airport, formerly and originally known as New Tokyo International Airport, is the primary 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[3] in the city of Narita in Chiba and the adjacent town of Shibayama.

Narita handles the majority of international passenger traffic to and from Tokyo and Japan, and is also a major connecting point for air traffic between Asia and the Americas. The airport handled 35,379,408 passengers in 2013.[2] It is the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan,[4] busiest air freight hub in Japan,[5] and tenth-busiest air freight hub in the world.[5] It serves as the main international hub of Japan's flag carrier Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Nippon Cargo Airlines, and low-cost carriers Jetstar Japan, Peach, Vanilla Air. It also serves as an Asian hub for Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Under Japanese law, it is classified as a first class airport.


Terminal 1[edit]

Exterior of the Terminal 1 building with the Central Building and North Wing visible
Terminal1 Departure Lobby (North Wing)
Terminal 1 Departure Lobby (South Wing)
Terminal 2 security area
Shuttle Bus

Terminal 1 uses a satellite terminal design divided into a North Wing (北ウイング kita-uingu?), Central Building (chūō-biru?), and a South Wing. Two circular satellites, Satellites 1 (gates 11–18) and 2 (gates 21–24), are connected to the North Wing. Satellites 3 and 4 (gates 26–38 and gates 41-47) compose a linear concourse connected to the Central Building. Satellite 5 (gates 51-58) is connected to the South Wing.

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.

North Wing[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7] British Airways moved its operations to Terminal 2 on 31 October 2010 in order to ease connections with Oneworld partner Japan Airlines.[8]

South Wing[edit]

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. The following are non-Star Alliance members: MIAT, Uzbekistan Airways, and Etihad Airways. Oneworld member Qatar Airways relocated from the South Wing to Terminal 2 on 28 March 2014 with all the other Oneworld members.[9] The South Wing has seven stories, and the first floor contains facilities for domestic flights by ANA.[10] 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[edit]

Terminal 2 Departure lobby

Terminal 2 is divided into a main building (honkan) and satellite, both of which are designed around linear concourses. The two were connected by the Terminal 2 Shuttle System, which was designed by Japan Otis Elevator and was the first cable-driven people mover in Japan. A new walkway between the main and satellite buildings began operation on September 27, 2013, and the shuttle system was discontinued.[11]

Check-in, departures, and immigration control for arriving passengers is on the second floor, while 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 moved their operations to T2 in early 2007 so as to ease connections to and from flights operated by oneworld partner Japan Airlines. China Airlines (SkyTeam carrier), China Eastern Airlines (SkyTeam carrier), Emirates, and Philippine Airlines are the only non Oneworld carriers operating from Terminal 2. Vietnam Airlines moved its operations from T2 to Terminal 1 North on 30 October 2011 with all other SkyTeam members. Air New Zealand also moved its operations from T2 to Terminal 1 South on 25 March 2012 in order to ease connections with fellow Star Alliance partner All Nippon Airways and other Star Alliance members as well.[12] Garuda Indonesia moved its operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 North on 1 April 2012 with all other SkyTeam members as the airline prepares to join the alliance. China Southern Airlines relocated from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 North on 12 September 2012 with all other fellow SkyTeam members.[13]

Vanilla Air, a low cost carrier, has its headquarters within Terminal 2.[14]

Terminal 3[edit]

A third terminal for low-cost carriers opened on April 8, 2015. Located 500 m north of Terminal 2, the new terminal incorporates several cost-cutting measures, including using decals instead of lighted directional signs and using outdoor gates and airstairs instead of jet bridges, which are intended to reduce facility costs for airlines and their passengers by around 40% on international flights and 15% on domestic flights. Jetstar Japan, Vanilla Air and three other low-cost carriers use the terminal. The terminal also includes a 24-hour food court, which is the largest airport food court in Japan, and an Islamic prayer room. It was built at a cost of 15 billion yen and covers 66,000 square meters of floor space.[15]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal/
Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo 1 North
operated by Aurora
Charter: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
1 North
Aeroméxico1 Mexico City 1 North
AirAsia X Kuala Lumpur[17] 2
Air Busan Busan 1 South
Air Canada Calgary, Vancouver
Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson
1 South
Air China Beijing-Capital, Dalian, Shanghai-Pudong 1 South
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 1 North
Air India Delhi 2
Air Macau Macau 2
Air New Zealand Auckland 1 South
Air Niugini Port Moresby 2
Air Tahiti Nui Papeete 2
Aircalin Nouméa 1 North
Alitalia Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino 1 North
All Nippon Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Chengdu, Chicago-O'Hare, Delhi, Düsseldorf, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Houston-Intercontinental (begins 12 June 2015),[18] Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Kuala Lumpur (resumes 1 September 2015),[19] Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, Naha, New York-JFK, Niigata, Osaka-Itami, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Qingdao, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Sapporo-Chitose, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenyang, Singapore, Washington-Dulles, Xiamen, Yangon 1 South
All Nippon Airways
operated by ANA Wings
Nagoya-Centrair, Sendai 1 South
All Nippon Airways
operated by Air Japan
Dalian, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Taipei-Taoyuan 1 South
ANA Connection
operated by Ibex Airlines
Hiroshima, Komatsu 1 South
Asia Atlantic Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 2
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles 2
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon 1 South
Austrian Airlines Vienna 1 South
British Airways London-Heathrow 2
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong, Taipei-Taoyuan 2
Cebu Pacific Cebu,[20] Manila 2
China Airlines Honolulu, Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan 2
China Eastern Airlines Beijing-Capital, Nanjing, Shanghai-Pudong 2
China Southern Airlines Changchun, Dalian, Guangzhou, Harbin[21] Shenyang 1 North
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Detroit, Guam, Honolulu, Koror, Los Angeles, Manila, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Portland (OR), Saipan, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan 1 North
Eastar Jet Seoul-Incheon 2
Emirates Dubai-International 2
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa2 1 South
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 1 South
EVA Air Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan 1 South
Finnair Helsinki 2
Garuda Indonesia Denpasar/Bali 1 North
Hong Kong Express Airways Hong Kong[22] 2
Japan Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Boston, Busan, Chicago-O'Hare, Dalian, Delhi, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guam, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Helsinki,[23] Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Manila, Moscow-Domodedovo, Nagoya-Centrair, New York-JFK, Osaka-Itami, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, San Diego, Sapporo-Chitose, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Vancouver 2
Jeju Air Seoul-Incheon 3
Jet Asia Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 2
Jetstar Airways Cairns, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney 3
Jetstar Japan Fukuoka, Hong Kong (begins 1 June 2015),[24] Kagoshima, Kumamoto,[25] Matsuyama, Naha, Ōita, Osaka-Kansai, Sapporo-Chitose, Takamatsu 3
KLM Amsterdam 1 North
Korean Air Busan, Honolulu, Jeju, Seoul-Incheon 1 North
Lufthansa Frankfurt 1 South
Malaysia Airlines Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur 2
MIAT Mongolian Airlines Ulaanbaatar 1 South
NokScoot Bangkok-Don Mueang (begins 16 May 2015)[26] TBA
Pakistan International Airlines Beijing-Capital, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore 2
Peach Osaka-Kansai, Sapporo-Chitose,[27] Fukuoka 1 South
Philippine Airlines Cebu, Manila 2
Qantas Brisbane (resumes 1 August 2015),[28] Sydney 2
Qatar Airways Doha 2
S7 Airlines Khabarovsk, Vladivostok 2
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen
Seasonal: Bergen
1 South
Scoot Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan 2
Singapore Airlines Los Angeles, Singapore 1 South
Spring Airlines Japan Hiroshima, Saga, Takamatsu[29] 3
SriLankan Airlines Colombo-Bandaranaike 2
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich 1 South
Thai AirAsia X Bangkok-Don Mueang 2
Thai Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 1 South
Tigerair Taiwan Taipei-Taoyuan[30] 2
TransAsia Airways Taipei-Taoyuan 2
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk 1 South
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Guam, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Washington-Dulles 1 South
Uzbekistan Airways Tashkent[31] 1 South
Vanilla Air Amami Oshima, Hong Kong,[32] Kaohsiung,[32] Naha, Sapporo-Chitose, Taipei-Taoyuan 3
Vietnam Airlines Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City 1 North

^1 Aeroméxico's flight from Mexico City to Narita stops in Monterrey, but the flight from Narita to Mexico City is nonstop.

^2 Ethiopian Airlines's flight from Addis Ababa to Narita continues on to Hong Kong. Ethiopian Airlines, however, does not have traffic rights to transport passengers solely between Narita and Hong Kong.

Cargo service[edit]

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.

Airlines Destinations
Air China Cargo Shanghai-Pudong
Air France Cargo Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Air Hong Kong Hong Kong
AirBridgeCargo Airlines Amsterdam, Moscow-Sheremetyevo
ANA Cargo Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Dalian, Hong Kong, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta,[33] Okinawa, Osaka-Kansai, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan, Xiamen
Cargo Garuda Indonesia Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
China Airlines Cargo Taipei-Taoyuan
China Cargo Airlines Shanghai-Pudong
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai-Al Maktoum[34]
FedEx Express Anchorage, Guangzhou, Memphis, Oakland
Hong Kong Airlines Cargo Hong Kong
KLM Cargo Amsterdam
Korean Air Cargo Seoul-Incheon
Lufthansa Cargo Frankfurt
MASkargo Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Penang
Nippon Cargo Airlines Amsterdam, Anchorage, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan-Malpensa, Nagoya-Centrair, New York-JFK, Osaka-Kansai, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Tianjin
Singapore Airlines Cargo Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi,[35] Singapore
Southern Air Anchorage, Chicago-O'Hare, Seoul-Incheon
Swiss WorldCargo Zürich
Thai Cargo Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Taipei-Taoyuan
UPS Airlines Clark, Louisville, Ontario, Shanghai-Pudong
Yanda Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi

Helicopter service[edit]

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.

Other facilities[edit]

Japan Airlines Narita Operation Center, the former headquarters of JALways

Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) has its headquarters on the grounds of Narita Airport,[36][37] in the NCA Line Maintenance Hangar (NCAライン整備ハンガー NCA Rain Seibi Hangā).[38] Previously NCA had its headquarters on the fourth floor of the Cargo Administration Building (貨物管理ビル Kamotsu Kanri Biru).[39][40]

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 once had its headquarters in the building.[41] All Nippon Airways also has a dedicated "Sky Center" operations building adjacent to Terminal 1, which serves as the headquarters of ANA Air Service Tokyo, a ground handling provider which is a joint venture between ANA and the airport authority.

Museum of Aeronautical Sciences
Narita Airport and community historical museum.

NRT has one on-site hotel, the Airport Rest House adjacent to Terminal 1. The hotel is operated by TFK, a company which also provides in-flight catering services from an adjacent flight kitchen facility. A capsule hotel opened adjacent to Terminal 2 in July 2014 in order to serve both transit passengers and passengers on early-morning low-cost carrier flights.[42]

The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences is located on the south side of Narita Airport and has a number of aircraft on exhibit, including a NAMC YS-11 and a number of small piston aircraft.

The airport is connected by a 47 km pipeline to the port of Chiba City and to a fuel terminal in Yotsukaido. The pipeline opened in 1983 and had pumped 130 billion liters of fuel to Narita Airport by its thirtieth anniversary of operations in 2013.[43]

Ground transportation[edit]


Komaino Junction outside Narita Airport. The tunnel to the left leads to the airport terminal stations; the tunnel to the right leads to Higashi-Narita Station and the Shibayama Railway.
JR Narita Express train
Keisei Skyliner train

Narita Airport has plenty of rail connections, with airport express trains as well as commuter trains running on various routes to Tokyo and beyond. Two operators serve the airport: East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and Keisei Electric Railway. Trains to and from the airport 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.

JR trains[edit]

Narita Express runs from the airport via the Narita and Sōbu lines to Tokyo Station. The trainsets divide at Tokyo, with one set looping clockwise around central Tokyo to the Shonan-Shinjuku Line, stopping at Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ōmiya and/or Takao, while the other set proceeds south to Shinagawa, Yokohama and Ōfuna through the Yokosuka Line. Trains normally run non-stop between Narita Airport and Tokyo, but during rush hours they also stop at Narita, Yotsukaidō and Chiba to accommodate commuters. The daytime non-stop service takes 55 min from the airport to Tokyo. A single trip from the airport to Tokyo Station costs ¥2940, while a trip to more distant stops costs up to ¥4500. All seating is reserved.

Airport Narita is the suburban JR service to the airport. It follows the same route to Tokyo Station but makes 15 intermediate stops en route, taking 80 min as opposed to the non-stop 55-min Narita Express. From Tokyo Station, most trains continue through the Yokosuka Line to Ōfuna, Zushi, Yokosuka and Kurihama in Kanagawa Prefecture. A single trip to Tokyo Station on this route costs ¥1280.

"Green Car" (first class) seats are available on both trains for an additional surcharge.

Keisei trains[edit]

Keisei operates two lines between Narita Airport and central Tokyo. The newer Keisei Narita Airport Line follows an almost straight path across northern Chiba Prefecture, while the older Keisei Main Line passes through the cities of Narita, Sakura and Funabashi. The lines converge at Keisei-Takasago Station in northeast Tokyo and then follow a common right-of-way to Nippori Station and Keisei Ueno Station, both located on the northeast side of the Yamanote Line that loops around central Tokyo.

Keisei operates a number of trains between the airport and Tokyo: Skyliner is the fastest train between the airport and the Yamanote Line. Travel time is 35 min to Nippori and 40 min to Keisei Ueno. Tokyo Station can be reached in 50 min with a transfer to the Yamanote Line. The Skyliner fare is ¥2,400. City Liner is the name given to the older Skyliner service which existed prior to the opening of the Sky Access Line. It operates through the less direct Keisei Main Line and makes intermediate stops in Narita and Funabashi. The fare is ¥1,920. Morning Liner and Evening Liner trains are City Liner trains that respectively operate toward Tokyo in the morning and away from Tokyo in the evening, with additional stops at Aoto, Sakura and Yachiyodai to accommodate commuters. The fare is ¥1,400. Access Express suburban trains run through the Sky Access Line but with intermediate stops en route. The fare is ¥1,200. Most Access Express trains run to Haneda Airport via the Toei Asakusa Line and Keikyu Main Line before 5pm, while after that most services run to Nippori and Keisei Ueno. Limited Express suburban trains run through the Keisei Main Line. These are the cheapest and slowest trains between Narita and central Tokyo, reaching Nippori in 70-75 min and Keisei Ueno in 75-80 min. The fare is ¥1,000.

All seats are reserved on the express "Liner" services, while the suburban "Express" services use open seating.


Airport Limousine bus

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.[44]

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, Yokosuka, Miura is available. 14,000 yen – 40,300 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.[45]

The main road link to Narita Airport which connects to the Shuto Expressway network at Ichikawa, Chiba.


Mori Building City Air Service offers a helicopter charter service between Narita and the Ark Hills complex in Roppongi, taking 35 minute and costing 280,000 yen each way for up to five passengers.[46]

Transfer to/from Haneda Airport[edit]

Haneda Airport is approximately 1.5–2 hours from Narita Airport by rail or bus. By rail, the Keisei Electric Railway runs direct trains between Haneda and Narita in 101 minutes for ¥1740 as of May 2012.[47] The Tokyo Monorail runs from Haneda to Hamamatsuchō Station in 15–20 minutes. A short transfer to Japan Railway train to Tōkyō Station is required to connect to the Narita Express train to Narita airport.[48] There are also direct buses between the airports operated by Airport Limousine Bus. The journey takes 65–85 minutes or longer depending on traffic and cost ¥3000 as of May 2012.[49]



Steel tower built by protesters adjacent to Narita Airport.
The guard wall and towers surrounding Narita Airport can be clearly seen from aircraft landing at the airport.
Riot squad vehicles patrolling the outskirts of Tokyo Narita Airport

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) and was used for future expansions of Haneda Airport, the government at the time 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.[citation needed]

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 (3.1 mi) 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.[50]

At the time, the socialist movement still possessed considerable strength in Japan, evidenced by the large-scale student riots in Tokyo in 1960.[51] 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.[52]

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.[52] 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.[52] 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.[52] 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.[52]

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.[citation needed]

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 September 16, 1971, when three policemen were killed in a riot involving thousands. Some protesters chained themselves to their homes and refused to leave.[citation needed]

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.[51] 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 of protestors broke into the control tower and destroyed much of its equipment, causing about $500,000 in damage and delaying the opening until May 20.[53]

The airport opened under a high level of security; 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."[54] Protestors attacked police on the opening day with rocks and firebombs while police responded with water cannons; 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.[53] The National Diet 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.[55]

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.[56]

Japan's international 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 transferred its Pacific Division, including its Narita hub, to United Airlines in February 1986.[57] Japanese domestic carrier All Nippon Airways began scheduled international flights from Narita to Guam in 1986.[58]


From 1978 to 2015, Narita Airport was the only airport in Japan where visitors were required to show ID upon entry, due to the tumultuous history of the airport's construction and the violent protests before, during, and after its opening. By 2012, Narita's operator was considering dispensing with the security checks. Given that the number of flight slots at Narita are also increasing, the anti-airport struggles were a long time ago, and Haneda Airport in Tokyo shaping up as a more serious competitor, a council headed by Chiba governor Kensaku Morita consisting of prefectural government officials, the Narita International Airport Corporation and business groups in Narita, proposed scrapping the ID checks. The Chiba prefectural police objected, stating that the checks were necessary to detect extremists and terrorists.[59]

NAA experimented with a new threat detection system for two months in 2013, using a combination of cameras, explosive detectors, dogs and other measures in lieu of passport and baggage checks upon entering the terminal. In March 2015, NAA announced that the ID checks would cease and the new system would be used for terminal building security, effective as of the end of that month.[60]

Narita Airport was 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 were to be tested sequentially outside the Terminal 1 South Wing security checkpoint; the subjects were Japanese nationals who volunteered for trial screening, as well as airport security staff during hours when the checkpoint is closed.[61]

Expansion and increased capacity[edit]

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 m (13,123 ft)[1] in length and an intersecting northeast/southwest runway 3,200 m (10,499 ft) in length. Upon the airport's opening in 1978, only one of the parallel runways was completed (16R/34L, also known as "Runway A"); 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.[52]

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 "because of fears of more violence."[62] By 1991, Narita was handling 22 million passengers a year, despite only having a design capacity of 13 million.[63]

Terminal 2 and B runway[edit]

Schematics for the airport

On November 26, 1986, the airport authority began work on Phase II, a new terminal and runway north of the airport's original main runway.[citation needed] To avoid the problems that plagued the first phase, the Minister of Transport promised in 1991 that the expansion would not involve expropriation.[citation needed] Residents in surrounding regions were compensated for the increased noise-pollution with home upgrades and soundproofing.[citation needed]

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.[63]

The B runway (16L/34R) 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 (7,152 ft), much shorter than its original plan length of 2,500 m (8,202 ft), left it too short to accommodate Boeing 747s.[64] The runway was further impeded by a three-story concrete building in the path of its taxiway, which the Union had constructed in 1966, forcing the taxiway to bend inward toward the runway. This imposed restrictions on the number of aircraft that could use the runway, since it was impossible for an aircraft to safely pass through the curve in the taxiway while another aircraft was using the runway.[65]

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.[66]

Runway B's limitations were made particularly apparent following the 2009 crash of FedEx Express Flight 80, which shut down Runway A and forced some heavy aircraft to divert to other airports. The runway was extended to its full length of 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) on October 22, 2009,[67] allowing an additional 20,000 flights per year.[68][69]

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Japan ruled in favor of the airport authority regarding ownership of the Union-occupied land in the path of the taxiway, allowing the taxiway to be modified to provide enough room for safe passing by March 2011.[65] The building remained in place until August 2011, when authorities removed it under an order by the Chiba District Court which had been upheld by the Tokyo High Court in May. 500 police officers were dispatched to provide security for the operation while 30 airport opponents protested.[70]

Under the airport's master plan, the third "C runway" would be a 3,200 metres (10,499 ft) cross runway south of the passenger terminals. Although NAA controls most of the property needed for its construction, certain small portions remain blocked by small plots of land held by airport protestors, and portions near the South Wing of Terminal 1 are currently used for aircraft parking. Use of the runway would also require noise abatement negotiations with the municipalities to the northeast and southwest of the airport, including the city of Yachimata which would lie directly beneath the southbound flight path from the runway. Due to these issues, the construction of the C runway has been put on hold indefinitely.[71]

Beginning on October 20, 2011, the airport was approved to allow simultaneous landings and take-offs from the A and B runways. The approval allowed the airport to increase annual take offs from 220,000 to 235,000 and increase hourly departure capacity from 32 to 46. The parallel runways are 2.5 km apart.[72]

Panorama from inside the Yahoo! Internet Cafe showing the Teminal 2 satellite, control tower and airport shuttle (removed in 2013)
Panorama from inside the Yahoo! Internet Cafe showing the Teminal 2 satellite, control tower and airport shuttle (removed in 2013)

Low-cost carrier terminal[edit]

Narita is building an LCC Terminal at a cost of ¥20 billion[73] by March 2015.[74] It will be located north of Terminal 2, where a cargo building currently sits, and will have a capacity of 50,000 flights per year.[73] The new terminal will not have boarding bridges to save cost; passengers will use boarding ramps instead.[74] Taisei Corporation was awarded a ¥11.2 billion contract to build the terminal in January 2013.[75] The new terminal is expected to open on 8 April 2015 as the airport's Terminal 3.[76]

The airport will construct a new LCC apron to the north of the terminal by March 2017, with five additional parking slots for Airbus A320 and similarly-sized aircraft.[77]

Transit upgrades[edit]

Railway routes between Tokyo and NRT. Narita Express of JR is in gray. New Skyliner route is in purple. The Keisei Main Line is in green.

Since its construction, Narita has been criticized for its distance from central Tokyo—an hour by the fastest train, and often longer by road due to traffic jams. Narita's 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).

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, who later served as 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.[citation needed]

The Narita Rapid Railway opened on July 17, 2010 and shaved 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 also shaved off travel time to Kanagawa Prefecture by bypassing Tokyo.

The Japanese government has also invested in several local 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.[78]


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.[79]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • 1979: On January 30, after an exhibition in Tokyo, 153 of Manabu Mabe's paintings were on board of a Varig cargo Boeing 707-323C registration PP-VLU en route from Narita International Airport to Rio de Janeiro-Galeão via Los Angeles. The aircraft went missing over the Pacific Ocean some 30 minutes (200 km ENE) from Tokyo. Causes are unknown since the wreck was never found. The paintings were lost.[80]
  • 1980: Paul McCartney arrived at Narita International Airport, was arrested for cannabis possession, and was deported immediately. He was not able to enter Japan for the next ten years.
  • 1985: On June 22, a piece of luggage exploded while being transferred to Air India Flight 301, 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 on board.
  • In the late 1980s, the Union to Oppose the Airport constructed two steel towers, 30.8 metres (101 ft) and 62.3 metres (204 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.[81]
  • 1987: Chukaku-ha, a radical organization, carried out a simultaneous overnight bombing of the offices of five companies in the Greater Tokyo Area involved in the Phase II expansion of Narita Airport.[82]
  • 1994: On December 11, 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 January 21, 1995 as part of its first phase.[83]
  • 1997: United Airlines Flight 826 experienced severe turbulence after leaving Narita en route for Honolulu. Due to injuries sustained by passengers, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Narita. One woman on the flight died of her injuries.[84]
  • 2001: January 31: Japan Airlines Flight 958, bound for Narita from Gimhae International Airport in Busan, nearly collided with another Japan Airlines aircraft, due to a mistake by an air traffic controller. The other aircraft, a Boeing 747, dove suddenly and narrowly avoided the Narita-bound DC-10.[85] See: 2001 Japan Airlines mid-air incident
  • 2001: In May, Kim Jong-nam, the son of former North Korean President Kim Jong-il, was arrested at Narita Airport for traveling with a counterfeit passport, and was deported to the People's Republic of China.[86]
  • 2003: January 27: All Nippon Airways Flight 908 (operated by Air Japan), a Boeing 767 aircraft arriving from Incheon International Airport, South Korea, overshot on Runway 16L/34R after landing. The runway was closed overnight due to necessary investigations and repairs. This was the first such incident of overrunning at Narita and an overnight closing to occur at the airport since its opening in 1978.[87]
  • 2004: On July 13, Bobby Fischer was detained at Narita Airport for 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.[88]
  • 2009: On March 23, FedEx Express Flight 80, a MD-11 aircraft from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China, crashed on Runway 16R/34L during landing, killing both the pilot and co-pilot. Runway 16R/34L, which is required for long-distance flights and heavier aircraft, was closed for a full day due to necessary investigations, repairs and removal of wreckage. This was the first fatal airplane crash to occur at the airport since its opening in 1978.[89]
  • 2009–2010: From November 4, 2009 to February 3, 2010, Chinese human rights defendant Feng Zhenghu remained near the immigration checkpoint in the south wing of Terminal 1, after having been refused re-entry into China.[90]
  • 2010:Paris Hilton arrived at Narita International Airport and was refused entry into Japan due to a past drug case. She stayed overnight in the airport and returned to America the next day.


Source: Narita International Airport Corporation(NAA), The operative situation of the airport[91]

Number of passengers at Tokyo Narita Airport.
Number of landings at Tokyo Narita Airport.
Cargo volume of Tokyo Narita Airport.

Current issues[edit]

An aerial view of the airport, showing the busy operations that take place on a daily basis
At Narita, simultaneous landing is performed in order to process busy traffic. Here, an ANA Boeing 767-300ER is landing on the closer runway while a Jetstar Japan Airbus A320-200 lands in the background.
Airport employees exercising together


Complaints over slots and landing fees have plagued the busy airport. Because so many airlines want to use it, the Japanese aviation authorities extend use time for Narita International Airport until midnight, and cut cost by denationalization. In 2004, New Tokyo International Airport Authority (NAA) was privatized and turned into Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA). Narita's landing fees were once more than double of those of Incheon International Airport (¥195,000 in November 2012), Singapore Changi Airport, and Shanghai Pudong Airport (¥170,000 in November 2012). In 2014, the policy of Open skies was implemented. Airlines can increase or decrease the number of its flights freely,and Narita's landing fees was cut by up to 50%.

LCC service[edit]

In October 2010, Narita announced plans to build a new terminal for low-cost carriers (LCCs) and to offer reduced landing fees for new airline service, in an attempt to maintain its competitiveness against Haneda Airport.

In July 2011, ANA and AirAsia announced that they would form a low-cost carrier subsidiary, AirAsia Japan, based at Narita. Later in 2011, JAL and Jetstar Asia announced a similar low-cost joint venture, Jetstar Japan, to be based at Narita. Skymark Airlines opened a domestic base at Narita in November 2011, and by February 2012 was operating 70 departures per week from NRT. Skymark cited the lower fees at NRT as a key reason for this move. Spring Airlines Japan, an LCC partly owned by Spring Airlines, plans to begin service in 2014 with NRT as its primary base.

Narita's restricted hours, congestion and landing fees have caused difficulties for LCCs operating at the airport. On Jetstar Japan's first day of operations in July 2012, a departing flight was delayed on the tarmac for one hour, forcing a cancellation. Less than two weeks later, a departing Jetstar Japan flight from Narita to New Chitose Airport was significantly delayed such that the return flight to Narita using the same aircraft could not arrive before the 11 PM curfew, forcing another cancellation. LCCs at Narita currently use the corner of Terminal 2 which is farthest from Runway A, often requiring a long taxi time.

Gallery of airplanes at Narita International Airport[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Historical and political[edit]