The Busiest Airports in Japan

Terminal 1 complex at Haneda Airport. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone /
Terminal 1 complex at Haneda Airport. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone /

Air transport is one of the most important modes of transport in Japan and is the primary mode of international transport for the island country. Some of the Japanese airports are among the busiest in the world. Here are the busiest airports in Japan according to the country's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. 

Haneda Airport

Haneda Airport is Tokyo’s busiest airport and by extension the busiest in Japan for domestic travel. Formally known as the Tokyo International Airport, Haneda is located in Ota, Tokyo and has the capacity to handle over 90 million passengers annually. It handled over 85 million passengers in 2017. The airport was built in 1930 by the Imperial Japanese government and was opened for operations in 1931. During the Second World War, Haneda was used as an airbase by the Imperial Navy Air Service and was also used to train fighter pilots. After the war, the US Navy occupied the airport and after making several adjustments it was renamed the Haneda Army Air Base, to be used as a military transportation base for the US Army. The airport was handed back to the Japanese government in 1958. Soon thereafter the government began plans to build a new airport to handle international flights to assist decongest the busy Haneda Airport. The airport known as Narita Airport was opened in 1978 and took over the international travel segment while Haneda retained the domestic flights. The airport consists of four runways and three terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and the International Terminal. In 2010, Haneda made a re-entry in the international transport field when the airport opened the new International Terminal.

Narita International Airport

Narita International Airport is an international airport located in east Tokyo. With monthly passengers reaching 38 million, Narita is the busiest airport in Japan handling international flights and handles over half of the international passengers and about 60% of the national air cargo. When Narita is combined with its “sister-airport” Haneda, it makes Tokyo the third largest airport complex in the world only surpassed by London and New York. The airport which was originally known as the New Tokyo International Airport and was built by the Japanese government in 1978 as a remedy to the congestion of the Haneda Airport. However, encountered heavy public criticism due to the fact that the land it was built on was in a densely populated area. Narita Airport hosts three terminals; Terminal 1 (opened in 1978), Terminal 2 (opened in 1992) and the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (inaugurated in 2015). Before the opening of Terminal 2, the airport was handling 22 million passengers annually against a capacity of 13 million passengers.

Significance Of The Airports

The aviation industry has a huge implication in the Japanese economy. The industry contributes to as much as 0.7% to the national GDP. The airports also help in curbing unemployment where the industry has created over 400,000 jobs either directly or indirectly. Airports also provide an entry or exit point for many commodities made internationally or locally and hence plays a crucial role in international trade.

Which Are The Busiest Airports In Japan?

RankAirportCityPassenger Count
1Haneda AirportTokyo85,300,301
2Narita International AirportTokyo38,631,558
3Kansai International AirportOsaka27,886,816
4Fukuoka AirportFukuoka23,796,849
5New Chitose AirportSapporo22,718,612
6Naha AirportNaha20,973,087
7Osaka International AirportOsaka15,597,777
8Chubu Centrair International AirportNagoya11,446,244
9Kagoshima AirportKagoshima5,617,997
10Sendai AirportSendai3,370,493

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