Australian airlines now have the option to use Tokyo's city-centre Haneda international airport as an alternative to Narita, as a new 'open skies' agreement between Australia and Japan comes into effect today.
Haneda Airport (HND) is 15km to the south of central Tokyo, sitting on the edge of Tokyo Bay. It has more domestic flights than the main international airport, Narita, and a new international terminal has reopened Haneda to long-haul flights. Since it's closer to Tokyo, it's quicker to get into town.
Narita Airport (NRT) is 60km to the east of central Tokyo, in Chiba Prefecture, connected by two high-speed train that take between 35 and 55 minutes to reach central Tokyo. Narita handles the majority of international flights, including all Tokyo flights to and from Australia.
The open skies agreement also means that, from today, there are no restrictions on the number of flights between Australia and Japan, with the exception of Tokyo's main Narita Airport between now and 2013.
In particular, that leaves the path clear for Jetstar Japan to plan flights to and from Australia. The airline will start with shorter range Airbus A320 planes, but has big expansion plans.
Sister Jetstar operations in New Zealand and Singapore already fly long-haul flights for the low-cost airline using larger Airbus A330 planes.
Currently, Jetstar, Qantas and Japan Airlines fly between Australia and Japan, with Jetstar serving more destinations than the other two airlines.
Australian Transport Minister Anthony Albanese called the open skies plan a "breakthrough agreement which will have significant economic benefits for Australia."