Jul 2, 2014

MLIT's subcommittee calling on spot upgrades at Haneda's old maintenance area

The interim report released by the Subcommittee on Tokyo Metropolitan Airports Functional Enhancement for Technical Review of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) on July 8 cited the need to improve facilities in order to reinforce the functions of airports in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The Haneda Airport (HND), which is said to be able to expand its annual handling capacity by as much as 39,000 flights worth through measures that will turn this into reality by 2020, apparently requires aircraft spot upgrades and for that end, the old maintenance area at the airport is the prime candidate. As for the international terminal, the report pointed out that the main building needs to expand as it is suffering from a lack in facility scale if adjustments with related institutions are not made and the flights are not spread to the other time slots during peak operating hours. Meanwhile, Narita International Airport (NRT), which is said to be gearing toward realizing a handling capacity expansion of about 40,000 more flights by 2020, is in need of fixed aircraft spot enhancements through the connection of its two existing passenger terminals in order to maintain a certain level of usage rate in its fixed spots. In addition, the report claims that studies on the construction of a satellite building equipped with fixed aircraft spots have to be conducted in order to map out enhancements in service level.

The Subcommittee on Tokyo Metropolitan Airports Functional Enhancement for Technical Review has raised operational improvements at the existing runways and the review of flight paths at HND, and the upgrade of control functions and development of rapid exit taxiways at NRT as measures toward the enhancement of functions at the said airports by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics are scheduled to be held. With these steps, it will reportedly become technically possible to boost handling capacity by about 79,000 flights for both airports, comprising a maximum of around 39,000 flights at HND and approximately 40,000 flights at NRT. Handling capacity at the Tokyo metropolitan airports will then grow by around 10% to about 826,000 flights (747,000 flights in fiscal 2014, comprising 447,000 flights at HND and 300,000 flights at NRT).

Aircraft spots at HND will reach 197 spots by fiscal 2016 under the current plan, but around 215 spots would be needed in order to cope with the approximately 39,000-flight increase from here on. There will then be a shortage of around 18 spots, so aircraft spot reinforcement would have to be done at the airport. The only candidate for being developed into aircraft spots is the old maintenance area (if other sites are needed, reclamation would be required), with the development of an apron at the said site envisioned to take about five years. The old maintenance zone is located outside the cross runway, so there are numerous intersecting runways for aircrafts. In light of this, the interim report emphasized that the taxiing ability of aircrafts needs to be reviewed.

Satellite building to be built at NRT

Meanwhile, the aircraft spots at NRT will total 164 spots within fiscal 2014. However, a total of around 190 spots are expected to be needed when the airport's capacity jumps by about 40,000 flights, so the development of more spots has to be considered. Usage rate of the fixed spots currently stands at 94%, but there is concern that the rise in the airport's capacity will cause the usage ratio to drop below the recommended 90% level of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In light of this, if the fixed spots grow by linking the two passenger terminals, then the usage ratio of the fixed spots can be kept higher than 90%.

With regard to the terminal buildings, the interim report also pointed out that, "If the terminals dedicated to low-cost carriers (LCC) that are currently under construction are placed in service, then although congestion at some facilities is envisioned during peak hours, the airport will still be able to cope." However, it also stressed that, "In light of the competition among hub airports in the neighboring Asian countries, we need to study the development of a satellite building equipped with aircraft spots in order to further raise service quality level on top of the (previously mentioned) facility construction." With this, it is envisioned that a satellite building will be built at the Yokobori area.

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