• Short Summary

    Narita Airport, the new international airport for Tokyo, is to open on March 30. It?

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    Narita Airport, the new international airport for Tokyo, is to open on March 30. It will be coming into operation six years after the original scheduled date. The new airport has been violently opposed by sections of the Japanese people, and the airlines that are due to use it are far from happy about it either.

    SYNOPSIS: Narita Airport has been designed to relieve the congestion at the existing Tokyo Airport, Haneda It will take the international traffic, leaving ??? for domestic flights. It arrival and departure halls has been designed for maximum speed in handling passengers and baggage. One departure hall alone has 60 check-in points. The terminal has one wing for Japan Air Lines and the other companies for which it acts; the other wing is for foreign airlines.

    The two upper floors handle departures -- the two lower floors, arrivals. 20-million passengers a year may be using them by 1985.

    But there has been trouble ever since the site was first announced in 1966. Local farmers, in danger of being dispossessed, led the opposition. They were soon joined by radical students and other anti-government forces.

    The clearing of the site went ahead, nonetheless. A farm that used to belong to the Japanese Imperial Family was handed over to the airport authorities. The trees came down and the stock was transferred elsewhere.

    Then bulldozers moved in, and by 1969 the first runway -- the only one to be built so far -- was beginning to take shape.

    Militant opposition continued and in a demonstration in 1971 three policemen were killed. The protesters took the view that food production was being sacrificed to private profit and the industrial society.

    Several times the demonstrators built tall towers to obstruct the flight path. The authorities promptly pull them down. The last was dealt with only last month. Objections have also been raised to the plan to take aviation fuel to Narita by pipeline. Now it is having to be transported by train.

    The airlines have two main objections to Narita. One is inconvenience of access from Central Tokyo. The airport is 65 kilometres (40 miles) away. Passengers can check in at the City Air Terminal, and once checked in there, they will not miss their flights. But they will have to do so at least two and-a half hours before the flight time. The journey by airline bus, over crowded motorway, takes about an hour outwards and more like an hour and-a half inwards from the airport.

    There are also three rail routes, but including time for getting to and from stations, they are no faster.

    The airlines' other objection is to higher landing fees and other charges. These are about 60 percent more than those at Haneda. So far the only aircraft to have flown from Narita have been on test flights. Next Thursday, if all goes well according to plan, the real traffic begins.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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