oneworld member airlines are to consolidate their operations at Tokyo Narita at its Terminal 2 - alongside the alliance’s new recruit Japan Airlines at its main international hub.
Qantas is already housed in Terminal 2, with JAL and its affiliates JALways and Japan Asia Airways. American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Finnair plan to move from Terminal 1 to join them there next year.
From there, they will be able to offer their customers state-of-the-art facilities, with Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA) investing JPY19 billion (US$170 million) in improvements in a five-year programme starting this year.
This will entail refurbishing the entire check-in area, including installing new counters and self-service kiosks and introducing new, more user-friendly security screening processes.
It will also install easier-to-read flight information displays, providing information in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.
The program will also add two more pier-served gates, taking the terminal’s total to 30, and expand provisions for landside and airside shopping.
Last year NAA spent JY1.1 billion (US$10 million) on Terminal 2, providing more space for new airline lounges and expanding the shopping area.
The five oneworld carriers who will be based there are currently discussing how best to co-ordinate their activities and share facilities.
American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas plan to build their own lounges for premium passengers, with JAL up-grading its existing lounges.
oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch said: “oneworld aims to bring the operations of our member airlines together at all key airports around the world wherever it makes sense and is possible. The addition of Japan Airlines to our alliance, co-inciding with this major investment program by Narita Airport Authority, provides us with a golden opportunity to do just this at what will be one of our most important worldwide hubs - and enable our airlines there to offer their customers a state-of-the-art passenger experience.”
JAL Group Chief Executive Officer Designate Haruka Nishimatsu said: “Our new oneworld partners moving alongside Japan Airlines in improved facilities at Tokyo Narita will enable us to achieve much greater cohesion between all partner airlines at our main international hub. Customers will benefit from more convenient, smoother and faster connections.”
The consolidation of its airlines’ operations at Tokyo Narita is the latest significant step taken by oneworld to bring its carriers together in improved facilities at key hubs.
In February its member airlines serving Iberia’s home base Madrid moved into the airport’s new EUR6 billion Terminal 4.
A month later, the alliance signed a memorandum of understanding with London’s BAA Heathrow which will see its member airlines consolidate operations from their current four terminals to just two from 2008 - the GBP4.2 billion (US$7.6 billion) new Terminal 5 and an up-graded Terminal 3, which is the closest of the existing terminals to the new facility.
Elsewhere, Finnair’s Helsinki home is one of Europe’s most modern airports, and frequently wins awards as the best for its size.
In Asia, Cathay Pacific’s hub Hong Kong International, which opened less than ten years ago, regularly wins prizes as the world’s best airport overall.
In Latin America, LAN’s Santiago base is one of the region’s most modern and customer-friendly.
In the USA, American Airlines moved its international operations at its Dallas/Fort Worth home into the US$1.2 billion new Terminal D in October last year, and is close to completing new terminals at its New York JFK and Miami hubs.