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Ibaraki Airport Opens with Only 1 Regular Route - Japan’s “Last Airport”?

Ibaraki Airport Opens with Only 1 Regular Route - Japan’s “Last Airport”?

The ceremonial first flight, flown by Skymark Airlines Inc. from Kobe Airport.

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On March 11, Japan’s 98th airport, Ibaraki Airport, opened in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture.

At the 8 a.m. opening ceremony, Ibaraki Governor Masaru Hashimoto said he hopes “many people will use the airport to help it grow.” The ceremonial first flight, flown by Skymark Airlines Inc. from Kobe Airport, landed at 9:40 a.m. with 160 passengers aboard. It was greeted with loud cheering and applause by airport personnel, local news reporters and aviation enthusiasts who arrived early and packed the terminal building’s observation deck.

The airport is administered by the national government and shares land with the Air Self-Defense Force’s Hyakuri Air Base. A new runway (2,700 meters) was built exclusively for the commercial operation. The airport was designed to cut costs with gangways rather than boarding bridges connecting aircraft with the terminal for passengers to board and deboard, a “compact and user-friendly” feature for travelers.

A total of nine mostly booked up flights arrived at or departed from Ibaraki Airport on the day, including charter flights to Taiwan and Hawaii. The only regular flight was an Asiana Airlines, Inc. flight to Seoul. Skymark has decided to start operating a flight to Kobe on April 16, but otherwise it has been difficult to find carriers to serve the airport. People in the airline industry are saying that with the national government’s stop to new airport construction, Ibaraki will be “the last Japanese airport.”

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