The Japanese and Chinese governments are looking to increase the number of flights linking Shanghai and Japanese cities to alleviate congestion and improve security, Japanese government and other sources said Monday.
The U.N. civil aviation agency, which proposed the plan, is aiming to expand the number of flights next spring, enabling Japan to cope with growing flight demand ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer.
The move comes as Chinese airlines have sharply increased the number of flights to Japanese cities from late October to a record high level following a bilateral accord in September to relax rules on Chinese airlines' flights to and from Narita airport near Tokyo in stages.
The two states' aviation authorities also agreed to eliminate restrictions on the number of flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai at Japanese regional airports.
Subject to the expansion are flight routes linking Shanghai and several Japanese airports including Narita, Nagoya and Fukuoka, which currently use a flight path over the island of Fukue in Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan.
There were only about 10 flights per day linking Shanghai and Japan using the path in 1983, but that has risen into the hundreds.
The number of increased flights and specific flight paths will be determined in the future by the Japanese and Chinese aviation authorities, the sources said.
The International Civil Aviation Organization expects concerned countries to reach formal agreement early next year and to start implementing the plan next spring, organization sources said.
"If the plan is realized, it would expand the transport capacity and contribute to a rise in the number of tourists to Japan," a Japanese government source said.
Japan and China have been shouldering flight control operations at South Korea's Flight Information Region, which is situated on the flight path between the two nations.
But the three countries are arranging to have South Korea take charge of flight control operations in line with the flight increase, the sources said.
The number of flights between Japan and China reached a record 1,130 for the winter table starting Oct. 27, an increase of 230 flights from the summer schedule that began in March.