By Will Lee
Tokyo’s Narita International Airport Completes its Expansion
Tokyo’s Narita International Airport — one of the major gateways into Japan — has completed its expansion on terminal three during the pandemic. The terminal opened in 2015 and is best known for hosting no-frills carriers. It is believed the terminal expansion can entice more travelers to go to Japan without breaking the bank.
Terminal three was designed to handle a maximum capacity of 7.5 million passengers annually in the first place. By popular demand, the number of passengers has easily reached its maximum to 7.64 million in 2017. In 2018, Narita International Airport announced an expansion after three years after launching terminal three.
The airport started its construction in 202, and the project costs 14 billion yen ($111.7 million). The expanded airport is expected to handle 15 million every year. According to the airport, the new terminal is 1.5 times bigger than the original size — adding 60 self-service check-in kiosks to enhance its contact-free services.
In addition, Narita has built a corridor between terminal three and terminal two. Transit passengers can benefit from the new corridor, as the walking distance will be cut by half.
Japan’s aviation industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. In 2021, Toyko’s Narita International Airport recorded 5.2 million passenger capacity, which was 50% less than in 2020. Ironically, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo did not stimulate the aviation sector last year due to the travel restrictions in the country. The travel bans have left the Olympics with no live audience. In 2019, the airport handled 44 million passengers.
Japan’s travel restrictions have put a strain on the airlines. According to All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, who are both major carriers in the country, the demand for international travel remains weak, where the pair carried 66,000 and 71,000 passengers in February respectively. The neighboring countries, such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia have been gradually reopening their borders to international travelers. Japan has closed its border to most travelers since the pandemic has begun.
Recently, Japan has shown a sign of relaxing its travel restrictions by increasing the daily arrivals to 10,000 foreign visitors from 7,000. Earlier, Japan has allowed business travelers and students from low-risk countries, such as Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand, to enter the country.
Moreover, Japan has lifted the travel restrictions on 106 countries’ citizens, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Business travelers, foreign students and researchers from those 106 countries have been given a green light to enter Japan again. However, tourists are still barred from entering the country.
“There won’t be anyone new who will be able to enter Japan as a result of this change,” the Justice Ministry made itself clear in a statement.