The city of Narita decided to accommodate late night flights until midnight at the curfew-bound Narita International Airport in times of poor weather and other exceptional circumstances, hoping that the measure will boost the competitiveness of Japan's main international gateway.
No flights are currently allowed at the airport that serves the capital Tokyo between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. due to noise concerns. The city is against a request by the transport ministry and the airport operator to open the airport early at 5 a.m.
The change for an extension, proposed by Mayor Kazunari Koizumi, was endorsed by the municipal assembly. The city will soon consult with neighboring municipalities and present their views to the transport ministry and the operator.
Narita city says the late night extension is contingent on conducting studies on if it would have an impact on health of residents.
Koizumi told reporters, "We need to allow (for a nightly extension) in order to increase the competitiveness of the airport. As for early morning, planes can wait to land after 6 a.m."
Asked about opposition from residents who would be inconvenienced by noise, the mayor said, "That is beyond my power."
The request for shortening the curfew was made in December by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Narita International Airport Corp.