Japan’s Narita Airport Is China’s Ideal Gateway To the U.S.
Narita International Airport (Booth 610), Japan’s major international hub, opened its Premier Gate business aviation terminal in March 2012, the first in the Tokyo area. The facility, which is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., is located close to Narita’s Terminal 2 and features co-located customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities and a private lounge for departing and arriving passengers. Vehicles can pull up immediately in front of the terminal, allowing customers to transfer quickly to waiting limousines for a rapid trip to Tokyo. In addition, helicopter service can also be arranged to the Akasaka Ark Hills rooftop heliport, a 20- to 30-minute trip to downtown Tokyo.
According to company representatives, Premier Gate represents just one step in a detailed plan by Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB) to promote business aviation in Japan, both internally and by visitors. That strategy includes addressing issues that the CAB identified as inhibiting business aviation in Japan, including the lack of takeoff and landing slots, no exclusive passenger facilities, few parking spots, complicated CIQ procedures and lack of service andsupport.
Narita Airport is aiming to expand its capacity to 300,000 slots by the end of fiscal 2014 and it believes that the development of a framework for accommodating corporate jet services will help bolster its role as a multiservice airport.
In anticipation of the rise in demand that would follow the opening of the business aviation terminal, slot and stand vacancies became available on the Internet as of October 2011 and the number of dedicated stands was increased from 15 to 18. Although the dedicated parking stands are in the maintenance area south of the terminal, when not being used by scheduled flights, those in direct proximity to the terminal can also be used for boarding and deplaning.
In other Narita news, at a recent news conference representatives of All Nippon Airways (ANA), which claims Narita as one of its hubs, said the airline is ideally positioned to provide connecting flights for growing passenger traffic between Asia and North America, and it hopes to open new routes linking secondary cities in China to the U.S.
“Everyone is aware of the economic growth in Asia,” Kohei Tsuji, ANA director of network planning, related during an interview at the airline’s Tokyo headquarters. “In fact, for the next 10 years, it is expected that the traffic from or to Asia will grow to all destinations, not limited to North America but also Europe, the Middle East or Africa. Thinking about our business, our strategy is to ride on our own strength–that is the geographical location of Japan.”
Tsuji explained that Japan “is out of the catchment area” of upstart low-cost carriers from Southeast Asia, as it lies at the edge of the range of narrowbody Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 airliners they operate. The country is also conveniently located as a gateway between Asia and North America. ANA wants to capture connecting passenger traffic from Asian cities to destinations in the western U.S. through its hub at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (Booth P610). Flights originating in the region in the morning would depart from Narita in the evening to U.S. destinations.
ANA does not anticipate rapid growth in the airline market between Japan and Europe, which is “mature,” Tsuji said. Nevertheless, this year it is launching service between Narita and Dusseldorf, Germany, which is home to one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe. It is also beginning flights between Tokyo Haneda Airport and London, Paris and Munich, and increasing to twice-daily flights between Haneda and Frankfurt. An expansion of the international terminal facility at Haneda was to begin operating in March.
Mainland China is a growth objective for ANA. Chinese and U.S. carriers already offer direct flights between the countries, mainly serving China’s major hubs of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. But there is plenty of untapped demand that ANA could serve from secondary cities in China, Tsuji said. “We are thinking: how do those people in the secondary cities go to the [U.S.], whether it be via a Chinese hub like Beijing or Shanghai, or through Incheon, Narita, Taipei or Hong Kong? Thinking about the current traffic situation in, for example, the Beijing airport or Shanghai airport, it is impossible to offer a tight connecting flight,” he said. “I think that we still have a business chance to offer connecting flights from the secondary cities in China via Narita.”
For the moment, however, territorial disputes in the Asia Pacific region have slowed ANA’s route expansion plans. Last November, China added to tensions when it declared an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, forcing airlines to submit flight plans when overflying the area. “We can’t get the approval from the Chinese authority if we try to open a new route,” Tsuji said. “Everything has been stopped.”