British Airways has now updated their booking engine to show the flights to Haneda only from 28th March 2020:
British Airways are set to become the latest airline to leave Tokyo Narita airport.
According to God Save The Points, they will instead offer double daily flights to Tokyo Haneda. Although making a dummy booking on ba.com, flights to Narita are still available to book throughout the summer. Should any change take place in the mean time, passengers will likely be rebooked on to OneWorld partner Japan Airlines should they still wish to travel to Narita.
Currently, the airline offers a daily flight to each of the airports in Tokyo, with a Boeing 777 serving Haneda and a Boeing 787 operating the flight to Narita.
British Airways currently serves Narita with the -9 variant of the 787. Presumably this will continue to be the case. As such, both flights will continue to offer a First Class cabin. The -8 variant of the 787 operated by British Airways doesn’t have a First cabin.
The Problem With Narita
When first opened, Narita was seen as Tokyo’s new main international gateway. The downtown Haneda airport was then classified as the domestic airport.
The main issue with the airport however was the distance from the city. Whilst served by express trains, the journey was still in the region of 45 minutes. And that was only to Ueno station on the outskirts of Tokyo.
By 2007, Haneda had opened up a limited number of slots for international flights.
By 2010, a new international terminal had opened at Haneda. Therefore, a number of long haul flights started operating from the airport once more.
Being in a more convenient location, Haneda is very much preferred. The last time I arrived into the airport, I was arriving at my hotel in Odaiba within an hour.
A Mass Narita Exit In March 2020
The airline’s have noted this, and have slowly been moving out of Narita. Delta Airlines will have ended all operations at Narita by April 2020. American Airlines have also followed suit. As have United Airlines.
Aeroflot and SAS will pull out of Narita completely at this time too.
Qantas will move its Melbourne-Tokyo service to Haneda at… you guessed it, the end of March 2020. It will keep its Brisbane service at Narita though.
A number of European airlines split their operations between the two airports currently. This was due to a rule that stated that if an airline wished to serve Tokyo Haneda internationally, then it cant be at the cost of flights to Narita.
When Virgin Atlantic dropped its long standing Tokyo Narita service, it was almost immediately rumoured to be restarting services to Haneda instead. Finnair will launch an additional Tokyo service to Haneda at the end of March 2020. Italian carrier Alitalia will do similar, again, at the end of March 2020.
Lufthansa served both airports in Tokyo until early 2017. At which point it left Narita completely.
With British Airways moving wholesale to Haneda, it can only be assumed that this rule has since been lifted. They are a little different to Lufthansa. Rather than putting everything at Haneda and then axing Narita, they are moving an existing flight over.
Why March 2020?
Why have so many airlines decided to switch between airports at this particular time? Put simply, the Japanese government will allow flights to pass over the city during the day for the first time. This has allowed the airport to offer 50 extra daily slots, all of which have been designated to international flights.
Will British Airways join the number of other airlines heading to Haneda? Wait and see…