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Haneda again an international airport

Date Posted: 2010-11-04

For the first time in more than three decades, Haneda Airport in Tokyo is an international airport, transforming itself from a domestic airport to a round-the-clock international hub connecting the Asian capital with 11 cities to begin with.

A dawn departure Sunday saw Japan Airlines lift off from Haneda International Airport headed for San Francisco, followed moments later by an All Nippon Airways flight to Los Angeles. Haneda is serving 11 cities, including Paris, Shanghai and Honolulu, but will expand its flight roster to 17 international destinations in 11 countries or regions, including London, New York and Detroit, by the end of February.

Officially, it’s Tokyo International Airport now, not Haneda, but by any name, passengers are delighted. “It was so easy to get here,” said a 55-year-old Kawasaki resident waiting for a flight to Seoul. Until now, travel to Seoul entailed a two-hour trip to Narita International Airport. “It took us about half the time it takes to get to Narita airport,” said another woman. Okinawa residents are excited about the change, too. Flights are plentiful from Naha International Airport to Haneda, making the transfer to international flights much more simple. Sunday’s regularly scheduled flights from the new offshore runway were the first in 32 years, when Haneda was Japan’s gateway serving both domestic and international flight routes.

Haneda was able to make the international transformation with the introduction of a fourth runway stretching 2,500 meters, allowing a 1.5 times increase to about 447,000 flights by fiscal year 2012. About 90,000 of those flights will be international to destinations that include Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Vancouver, Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul. Until this week, Haneda’s only international flights were short haul charter flights to and from Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Haneda serves 50 domestic Japanese routes.

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