Tokyo Narita International airport has been given the green light to extend its operating hours as well as to build a third runway.

The airport's operator Narita International Airport Corporation (NIAC) says an agreement was reached after multi-year discussions with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, as well as the Chiba Prefecture and local municipalities surrounding the airport.

For a start, operations will be extended by 2.5 hours from 05.00 local time to 00.30 local time. At current, the airport operates between 06.00 local time and 23:00 local time, or up to midnight as and when needed. This is the first time the airport has adjusted its operating hours since opening in 1978.

In addition it will built a 3,500m third runway, as well as extend its second runway,16L/34R, by 1,000m to 3,500m.

A report in Japan Today indicates that the runway extension will be completed by 2020, while the third runway will be constructed in the next decade.

These measures will help raise the number of take-off and landing slots at Narita from 300,000 to 500,000 annually.

NIAC says the growing demand for air travel in Asia-Pacific, as well as into Japan, has raised the likelihood that Tokyo's two main airports - Haneda and Narita - will operate beyond their current handling capacity between fiscal 2022 and fiscal 2027.

With Narita operating at 500,000 slots, it will be able to handle 75 million passengers annually, and capacity will be hit between 2032 and 2048.

In 2017, Narita handled 40.7 million passengers. FlightGlobal schedules data shows that in February, All Nippon Airways is the largest operator in terms of seat capacity, followed by Japan Airlines, Jetstar Japan, and Vanilla Air.

Source: Cirium Dashboard