Japanese off-shoring boosts Narita Airport

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NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is handling increasing amounts of transshipments because Japanese companies moved production to neighbouring countries and export their products worldwide through Japan.

Transshipments in 2014 rose to 684,128 tonnes, a consistent rise since 2011 when it was 346,004 tonnes. In 2012, transshipments rose to 482,941 tonnes and then to 593,373 tonnes in 2013. 

The strength of the yen caused companies to move to countries such as China because of lower manufacturing costs. Between 2010 and 2014 imports to Japan fell from 906,771 tonnes to 763,324 tonnes.

The Japanese government has devalued the yen, while the nation’s carriers have been adjusting routes to fly to Asia. Narita International Airport deputy vice president for cargo business development, Fumio Gunji, says: “The transshipment phenomena is because from 2012 Japanese carriers made an effort to increase transshipment volumes between Asia and America. 

“Japanese factories moved from Japan for lower labour costs, so Japanese carriers needed to go into Asia to move commodities.” 

As such the increase in transshipments has meant that in 2014 Narita handled two million tonnes, the strongest since 2010 when it handled 2.1 million. This is still below the peak of 2.3 million tonnes seen in 2004. Due to the world economic crisis in 2008 volumes dropped to 1.8 million tonnes in 2009 and in 2011 the earthquake and tsunami kept volumes to 1.9 million tonnes. Narita has an annual cargo capacity of 2.3 million tonnes.

The two Tokyo metropolitan airports have also been considering how to increase the number of flight movements at Narita and Haneda International Airport in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

In a report first set out in August 2014 it suggested a review of runway operations and flight routes at Haneda, which could result in up to 39,000 extra flights per year. . Beyond 2020 new runways will be considered at both airports with the possibility of extending one at Narita.

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