Construction work has finally begun on an extension of congested Tokyo Narita airport's second runway to allow it to handle larger aircraft and more flights.

The expansion work will see the second runway extended northward to 2,500m in length from 2,180m. Construction began in mid-September after government approval was secured.

The second runway was only opened in 2002 and original plans called for it to be longer than its existing 2,180m through an extension to the south. The plans had to be scaled back, however, after authorities failed to secure land on which the extended portion was to have been built.

Local farmers have for decades refused to sell as they are still angry over the way the government forcibly took away land from many of their neighbours when planning for the airport began decades ago. Narita opened in 1978 with a single 4,000m-long runway and for many years the airport has been at capacity at key times of day.

Japanese authorities say the 320m extension of the second runway will be completed in the 2009, allowing it to handle larger aircraft and to enable total aircraft movements at the airport to increase to 220,000 annually from 200,000 today. ■

Source: Airline Business