Consolidation of operations by oneworld member airlines at Tokyo Narita, the main international hub of alliance member elect Japan Airlines, has begun with the transfer of American Airlines from the airport’s Terminal 1 to Terminal 2, where JAL and Qantas are already housed. Cathay Pacific will move across a few days later, on Sunday (21 January), with Finnair following on Thursday, 1 March.
Their co-location will enable these oneworld airlines almost to halve minimum connections times between their flights at the airport to as little as 60 minutes, and make the overall transfer process smoother and easier.
The move is the culmination of oneworld’s most significant airport consolidation project to date in the Asia-Pacific region.
Between them, the alliance’s five airlines that will be housed in Terminal 2 operate more than a thousand arrivals and departures a week connecting Narita with around 50 destinations worldwide.
Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA) is currently investing JPY19 billion (US$170 million) in improvements in a five-year programme starting last year to ensure Terminal 2 can boast state-of-the-art facilities.
Meantime, as its operations begin in Terminal 2, American Airlines today also opens a new Admirals Club lounge there. At 13,300 sq ft, this new facility is almost twice as large as the one it replaces in Terminal 1 and significantly better positioned than lounges of most other US carriers at Tokyo. Besides all the usual amenities, including showers, comfortable chairs and a bar, it offers free wireless and internet access, with more than 100 ethernet ports.
Cathay Pacific will also open a new lounge as it transfers into Terminal 2. Following the design concept of The Pier, the airline’s second premium lounge at its Hong Kong home, the new Narita lounge will offer passengers a stylish place to sit back and relax before they board their flight. Passengers will be able to choose food and drinks at The Long Bar, the airline’s signature lounge feature, enjoy the visual entertainment in the comfortable seating area, or use one of the workstations that offer wireless internet connections.
Qantas is currently developing its own business class lounge scheduled for opening in late 2007. The exclusive space will feature a range of business services, contemporary shower and bathroom amenities as well as seating for 160, while Japan Airlines will up-grade its existing lounge facilities. Finnair will offer its customers the use of the lounges of one of its oneworld partners.
The overall improvements currently underway by NAA at Terminal 2 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 is also installing easier-to-read flight information displays, providing information in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.
The programme will also add two more pier-served gates, taking the terminal’s total to 30 - virtually eliminating the need to board or disembark passengers by coach, with aircraft parked at remote stands.
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 programme 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 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 2006 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.