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From our standpoint, Tokyo and Japan run the risk of creating two less-than-optimal airports serving the region.” To ensure that Kanto doesn’t end up with a pair of underachieving airports, overseas carriers argue that Haneda should remain a domestic hub while Narita focuses on becoming a world-class international airport. Most in the industry agree

minutes by rail from Hong Kong International to Hong Kong Station and 27 minutes from Changi Airport to downtown Singapore, while Haneda can be reached in 17 minutes from Shinagawa. Narita’s remote location is what prompted urban developer Mori Building to launch a helicopter service from the airport to downtown Tokyo for globetrotting VIPs and busy executives. At ¥525,000 for up to four passengers, the 20-minute flight to the Ark Mori Building in the Akasaka district of Minato Ward doesn’t come cheap. But according to Yuko Yoshioka of Mori Building City Air Services, the new venture, which started in April, offers “a solution to the poor transport links to and from Narita Airport and contributes to Tokyo’s growth and appeal as a truly global city.” “A high-speed train from downtown Tokyo, not Nippori, but truly downtown Tokyo, would truly make Narita competitive with Haneda and other Asian gateways,” says Bernier. “If you could get from Narita to downtown Tokyo within 30 minutes, and to your final destination in under an hour, that’s no different to most major airports throughout the world.” That kind of accessibility would be a major step forward, but it isn’t the only improvement needed. Bernier says Narita is going to have to become more cost-competitive, too. “If they want more carriers to do business and provide more services, Narita needs

If you could get from Narita to downtown Tokyo within 30 minutes, and to your final destination in under an hour, that’s no different to most major airports throughout the world. that Narita’s first hurdle is to improve its accessibility. For someone like Roberto De Vido, a corporate communications strategist who has been regularly using Narita for the past 20 years, Narita is in need of a high-speed rail link to Tokyo and Yokohama. “I use the Narita Express, and it’s a nice train, but due, I guess, to track congestion, it just crawls along on most of its journey. I’d love to see a proper high-speed link,” he says. To help fix the problem, the Narita Rapid Railway’s 160 kilometerper-hour Skyliner trains will start ferrying passengers between Terminal 2 and Nippori Station in Tokyo next year. The 36-minute journey will be a definite improvement on the current 51 minutes on the Keisei Line. Yet while the new line has been well received, Nippori is at least one more train ride away from the financial, business and tourism centers of Tokyo, and rail access to Narita still won’t compare favorably with rival airports in the region. It takes just 24 30 June 2009 iNTOUCH

iNTOUCH June 2009  

Tokyo American Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH

iNTOUCH June 2009  

Tokyo American Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH