Here’s Why Airlines Are Migrating To Tokyo’s Haneda Airport

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The mega-metropolis of Tokyo is served by two international airports: Narita and Haneda. Both are fantastic airports that each have their advantages and drawbacks. But more and more – especially this year – we are seeing airlines shift their operations towards Haneda. What’s going on?

Haneda airport from air
Haneda proves a more convenient link to the city of Tokyo. Photo: Pyzhou via Wikimedia Commons

 

The notable moves this year

While Narita overall is better known for having a far better international offering of destinations, this year we’ve seen some notables moves by major international airlines from Narita to Haneda.

On the home front, Japanese carriers have received 12 daytime Haneda slots for US flights. According to Japan Times, these slots have been equally distributed between All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines. As a result of this, ANA will offer six new flights to the US out of Haneda, largely replacing the equivalent Narita flights.

As you can see with the infographic below, Delta will have all of its flights landing at Haneda rather than Narita by the Spring of next year:

“Delta is excited to announce that from March, 2020, we will be moving from Narita International Airport (NRT) to our new home in Haneda Airport (HND), the closest and most convenient airport in Tokyo.”

An infographic from Delta explaining the advantages of Haneda airport. Photo: Delta Air Lines

In addition to Delta increasing its presence at Haneda, American, United, and Hawaiian will have some additional slots at Haneda as well according to One Mile at a Time.

United Airlines Boeing 787-10
United Airlines’ Boeing 787-10 will fly from Los Angeles International to Tokyo Haneda next year. Photo: United Airlines.

SAS is also making moves to switch its destination airport in Tokyo from Narita to Haneda. The flight is set to be operated by its new Airbus A350.

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“SAS looks forward to the opportunity to serve Haneda from the summer season 2020 in time for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With this initiative, SAS aims to support Olympic athletes in the national teams of Denmark, Norway and Sweden in their quest for Olympic success,”

Where are the slots coming from?

The Japan Times notes that these new slots are made possible with new rules at Haneda. The new policy allows flights to fly over central Tokyo during the day for the first time. In total, 50 slots will be added per day for daytime flight services.

This new policy comes in advance of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. For good reason, a capacity crunch Tokyo is anticipated as the world descends upon the megacity to experience the games.

Haneda is also not restricted by curfew hours in the same way Narita is. The latter has an overnight restriction on flights between 12:30am and 5am local time. However, the increased air traffic may be a cause for concern amongst the residents living around Haneda.

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Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Japan Airlines flies out of both Narita and Haneda airports. Photo: JAL

Conclusion

The move should be welcomed with enthusiasm for most travelers headed to Tokyo. Tokyo Haneda Airport is much closer than Narita which saves both time and money for passengers. In fact, across all forms of transportation – whether traveling by public transit/train or a taxi, Haneda is the cheaper option. Furthermore, time spent getting to the airport can be as little as 30 minutes to Haneda compared to the roughly 90 minutes going to Narita.

With all that being said, Narita still has a huge list of international destinations not served by Haneda. Therefore, Narita might be the better option if you are traveling through Tokyo rather than to it.

What airport do you prefer using in Tokyo? Are there any advantages that Narita has over Haneda that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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