International flights at Tokyo Haneda to start on 31 Oct

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Tokyo Haneda Airport's fourth runway and international passenger terminal will begin operations on 21 October, followed by the start of international scheduled flights on 31 October.

Japan's ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, which has said that international flights will likely commence on 31 October, officially announced the opening dates today.

With the opening of the fourth runway, passenger capacity at Haneda is expected to increase over the next three years.

The airport estimates that it will handle 8.6 million international passengers a year in 2012 and eight million in 2011, up from five million currently.

Domestic passenger numbers are expected to grow to 62.2 million a year in 2012 and 61.6 million in 2011, up from 61 million this year, says Haneda Airport.

Japan Airlines (JAL) group president and COO Masaru Onishi, who welcomed the announcement of the airport's opening date, says: "The launch of more international routes from Haneda Airport and its latest international passenger terminal is strategically important to JAL."

JAL will begin flights between Haneda and San Francisco, Honolulu, Paris, Bangkok and Taipei Songshan from 31 October.

It will also convert its existing regular charter flights to Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong to scheduled flights, says the Oneworld carrier.

"Additionally, we plan to deepen our codeshare partnership with fellow Oneworld Alliance member, American Airlines, including on its allotted Haneda-New York route, so as to strategically expand our network for the benefit of both our customers," says Onishi.