A Guide to Tokyo Narita (RJAA) - Presented By ANA Virtual Group

Narita was opened back in 1978 when it was predicted that Haneda airport wouldn’t be able to handle the increasing traffic.

The difference I see right now is the following:

  • Narita services lots of cargo flights, which can’t be seen at all at Haneda.
  • There are a bit more international flights to and from Narita than Haneda
  • ANA and JAL both use these airports as their hub, with ANA using Narita for their cargo flights
  • Smaller airlines fly into only one of them. Peach, Jetstar Japan, Spring Japan, Zipair etc. fly into Narita, while Solaseed, Starflyer, Air Do etc. use Haneda.

This isn’t necessarily true, Haneda is split into 2 main domestic terminals that is each used by ANA and JAL, and in terms of the frequency level of flights, they are at the same level. Narita is also mostly evenly used by the 2 airlines.

The last main difference, which has already been mentioned by a lot of other members here above, is their locations. Haneda Airport is still inside Tokyo, and is easily accessible by train, monorail, bus, etc in only about 15 minutes. They are even planning to make a new train route that goes to Haneda in the future, so the accessibility of this airport is way superior compared to Narita.

Narita Airport is located in a completely different prefecture, and it takes at least around an hour. Overall it’s just too far away and most people, if they are just traveling to a city in the country, would use Haneda airport.


What I don’t understand: If Haneda was not able to handle increasing traffic back in 1978, why can it now do so? Of course new terminals and runways were added, but that could not have been done before? Why wasn’t it expanded before Narita was built? A mystery maybe…

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Yeah, that’s the thing that’s questioned a lot…

Some people just question why a new airport had to be constructed when they could have just expanded the existing Haneda airport… I’m guessing it was related to some technical issues and how it was so close to the downtown area.

Another thing is that originally, Narita airport was supposed to have 5 runways that intersect with each other, and the total area would be twice as large as the current actual one. It was supposed to be a way larger airport, and I think they were expecting it to be the largest hub airport that services Tokyo.

But then the government faced a massive obstacle, which was intense opposition from landowners, local residents, and left-wing activists in Narita, and in fact, multiple people died from clashes between these people and the police.

So all of these oppositions forced the govt. to reduce the scale of the plan, and resulted in a new airport that ended up not being a huge one.


The opposition against the construction of Narita Airport was HUGE. It’s famous here in Japan, but not a lot of people from other countries know the struggle it took for the airport to be completed.

The people would group up together, and do anything to obstruct the airport’s completion. They would attack construction workers, build towers that are tall enough to interfere with the approach glideslope into the runways, and even after the airport was completed, they would trespass into it and destroy pieces of equipment.

There was one famous incident where they invaded the control tower, completely smashed the radar and communication machines, and forced the air traffic controllers, who were already in the tower, to escape onto the roof. This delayed the opening of the airport by 2 months. (this old tower is now removed and can’t be seen anymore)


Stay tuned. ANA Virtual is just setting started ;).

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Isn’t Narita also the airport where there is still one farmer left, right in between the runways?


Thank you so much for your informative answer. Interesting things I didn’t know such as the 5 runways that were intended for Narita etc. I have spent years flying into Narita, and the perimeter security checkpoint which disappeared a few years ago used to be so much a part of the Narita experience. And now that’s just a memory. And Haneda has roared back to life. Amazing!


Both are equally great! They each have their own history and purposes. Let’s see what they have in store for the future.


Yes, so many interesting facts about the airport that a lot of us don’t know… Glad you found my reply informative :)

The checkpoint was definitely a big part of the airport, I really miss it 😢

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Yes, that is part of the opposition against the government’s land acquisition for the airport. His land is one of the last remaining plots of land that haven’t been obtained yet, thus resulting in the taxiway having to go around it

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I think to say this is an amazing photo, is an understatement. A bit of farm in the middle of the airport. Though Narita is not yet 3D modelled, the taxiway farm wiggle is clearly there in the current 2D depiction. I mean look how close it is to the end of 34R.

Caution wake turbulence!