January 30, 2019 / 12:52 PM / 25 days ago

Pact with U.S. lets Japan's Haneda airport boost capacity ahead of Olympics

FILE PHOTO: The main wooden roof section of the Olympic Gymnastic Centre for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics is installed under construction at Ariake district in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 7, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States has agreed to let commercial flights use airspace controlled by its forces in Japan, meaning the capacity of one of Tokyo’s main airports will get a boost in time for the 2020 Olympics, the government said on Wednesday.

The extra capacity will help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government make tourism a pillar of growth and to boost arrivals by 28 percent from last year, to 40 million by 2020.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami told a news conference the United States and Japan had reached the agreement on opening up the airspace on Tuesday.

The agreement allows commercial flights landing at Haneda to enter U.S. forces-controlled airspace above parts of Tokyo and the vicinity, making it possible to raise the number of international flights it can handle by 65 percent, to 99,000 a year, a Transport Ministry official said.

Tokyo International Airport, also known as Haneda, is the main gateway into Japan as it is closer to the city center than the other main airport that serves the city, Narita.

Airlines generally want slots at Haneda more than at Narita.

The agreement will go into effect before Tokyo hosts the summer Olympic Games in 2020, the ministry official said.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Jamie Freed; Editing by Robert Birsel

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