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Economy

US military clears faster flight path for Tokyo's Haneda

Decision will allow airport to handle almost 40,000 more flights a year

Airplanes using Haneda Airport are now required to fly over Tokyo Bay in order to avoid U.S.-military-controlled airspace.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan has reached a basic deal with the U.S. to redraw flight paths to add capacity for Tokyo's Haneda Airport before the 2020 Summer Olympics, clearing a hurdle over the use of local airspace.

The new, more efficient flight pattern passes over the capital city rather than Tokyo Bay, and goes through airspace managed by the U.S. military's Yokota Air Base. The two sides agreed to let flights pass through at certain times when the Japanese side would take control.

The agreement, announced by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami at a press conference Monday, clears the way to raise the hub's daytime international flights to 99,000 per year from the current 60,000.

Airlines have been hungry for the chance to capitalize on growing demand for travel to Japan. How the added capacity will be allotted remains to be determined.

The capacity boost is considered key to the government's goal of raising its international visitor headcount to 40 million by 2020. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has begun holding forums to address local residents' concerns about noise and falling objects.

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