Civilian Flights Back at Sendai Airport - 6 Daily to Haneda and Itami

Civilian Flights Back at Sendai Airport - 6 Daily to Haneda and Itami

A man holding a welcome message banner for arrival passengers at the reopened Sendai Airport.

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Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, which was closed due to damage inflicted by the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake, reopened some of its air traveler facilities on April 13 and resumed operation of civilian flights for the first time in thirty-three days.

Transport planes and other aircraft are now able to land and take off at the airport - which was nearly entirely flooded by the tsunami spawned by the earthquake - thanks to cleanup efforts undertaken by the U.S. military and Self-Defense Forces, who removed rubble and debris from the runway. Airport personnel are working at a fever pitch to restore traveler facilities, reopening some of the terminal building on the 13th, the first time since the disaster struck. Extra check-in counters, benches, retail stands and more have been set up in part of the west side of the first-floor arrivals lobby, which is handling both departing and arriving passengers in the same space. For the time being, All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) is planning to operate three daily round-trip flights to Haneda and Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd. (JAL) will operate one round-trip flight to Haneda and two to Osaka Itami daily, all of which are temporary arrangements.

The entire terminal is still cut off from electricity and water utilities, so generators have been brought in for power along with temporary water equipment for hand-washing and such. Since no schedule has been established for restoring service on the Sendai Airport Access Line, which provides a rail connection to JR Sendai Station, buses scheduled in coordination with flight times are acting as a replacement. Although the tsunami damage is still vividly fresh around Sendai Airport, its restoration and reopening should serve as a major springboard for recovery efforts elsewhere in the disaster-stricken area.