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Haneda to top Narita as hub for Japan carriers to US and Europe

JAL and ANA move to take advantage of Tokyo airport's expansion

Japan's two main full-service airlines, ANA and Japan Airlines, plan to increase routes to Europe and the U.S., making Haneda the main starting point and displacing Narita as their top international hub to these destinations.

TOKYO -- Japan's biggest airlines will significantly increase their flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to European and U.S. cities, starting in March 2020, displacing Narita as the main international hub to these destinations.

All Nippon Airways will double the number of such routes from Haneda to 18 after launching flights to Milan and other cities. Similarly, Japan Airlines will increase its routes, mainly to the U.S. Combined, the two carriers will operate more flights to Europe and the U.S. from Haneda than from Narita Airport, the traditional international air hub for the Tokyo area.

The new routes are expected to bring more visitors to Japan from these regions.

Since the opening of Narita in 1978, the two airports have played largely separate roles, with Narita mainly hosting international flights, while Haneda focused on domestic service. But since a fourth runway was added at Haneda in 2010, the Tokyo airport has gradually increased its international service. At present, for all airlines, Haneda serves about 30 international cities, compared with some 115 for Narita.

Although Narita will continue to operate more international routes overall, led by discount carriers, Haneda is expected to become more important for long-haul flights, which are used by many business travelers.

ANA will shift its flights to four U.S. destinations -- including San Jose, California, and Washington -- to Haneda from Narita. It will also begin service to five new destinations from Haneda, including San Francisco, Milan and Istanbul. That will bring to 18 the total number of routes served by ANA from Haneda. Its international routes from Narita will fall to seven from 10 at present.

JAL, which operates four routes from Haneda to European and U.S. destinations, is expected to increase that number to about 10. Its European and U.S. routes from Narita, which currently number 10, will fall. JAL will make Haneda its main international hub serving those parts of the world.

Following the changes, European and U.S. routes served by ANA and JAL from Haneda will total about 27 while those starting at Narita will total about 15.

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