The operator of Narita Airport near Tokyo says the number of foreigners who used the facility for international flights last year marked a record high and exceeded that of Japanese passengers.
The operator says more than 32 million people flew to and from the airport’s international terminals in 2016.
It says that with transit passengers excluded, 13.92 million of them were foreigners, topping the number of Japanese by 620,000.
This is the first time since the airport’s opening in 1978 that more foreigners have used international flights to and from Narita than Japanese.
The number of Japanese passengers at the airport peaked at 19.21 million in 2006.
But the figure has been slumping due partly to the global financial crisis and Haneda Airport’s handling of international flights. Haneda is located in Tokyo.
The number of foreign passengers at Narita tumbled to 5.94 million in 2011, following the major earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan. That was 70 percent of the level seen in the previous year.
But the operator says the figure has been growing by roughly 20 percent annually. It adds this is mainly because the airport expanded routes to China, South Korea, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia.
The operator’s President and CEO Makoto Natsume held a news conference on Thursday. He said the airport has succeeded in attracting visitors from abroad, but it will boost its effort to lure more Japanese amid major fallout from Haneda’s internationalization.
Source and image: NHK
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