Tokyo International Airport located in Ota, Tokyo, Japan is one of the main airports serving the Greater Tokyo area.
It is commonly known as Haneda Airport to differentiate it from Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture. Narita handles most international flights to the region; Haneda’s only international service is to Gimpo International Airport in Seoul, South Korea.
Haneda Airport consistently ranks among the world’s busiest passenger airports even though nearly all of its flights are to destinations within Japan. By passenger throughput, Haneda is the busiest airport in Asia, handling 62.3 million passengers in 2004.
Haneda Aerodrome first opened in 1931 on a small piece of bayfront land at the south end of today’s airport complex. It was Japan’s largest civilian airport at the time it was constructed. During the 1930’s it handled flights to destinations in Japan and Manchuria.
In 1945, U.S. occupation forces took over the airport and renamed it Haneda Army Air Base. The Army evicted many nearby residents to make room for various construction projects. As a military base, Haneda received its first international flights in 1947 when Northwest Orient began scheduled service to the United States, China, South Korea and the Philippines. Japan Airlines began its first domestic operations from Haneda in 1951.The U.S. military gave part of the base back to Japan in1952; this portion became known as Tokyo International Airport. The rest of the base was returned to Japan in 1958.
European carriers began service to Haneda in the 1950s. Haneda’s instrument landing system became operational in 1961.A new runway and international terminal were completed in 1970, but demand continued to outpace expansion.
In 1978 , Narita International Airport opened, taking over almost all international service in the Greater Tokyo Area, and Haneda became a domestic airport.
Haneda may assume a larger international role in the future as Narita Airport is expected to become more overcrowded; a fourth runway is under construction and a third terminal for international flights is being planned. Currently, many international travelers from the Greater Tokyo Area fly from Haneda to Kansai Airport or other international airports in Japan and then connect to international flights, saving the time and expense otherwise required to get to Narita.