OSAKA - As Kansai International Airport prepared to partially reopen its Terminal 1 building Friday, with the main runway soon to follow, efforts were moving forward Thursday at nearby Kobe and Itami airports to accept new domestic and international flights.
Kansai airport’s Terminal 1 and the main runway had been closed since Typhoon Jebi ripped through the region early last week, causing massive flooding at the air hub. Some flights since late last week have operated from the undamaged Terminal 2 while flying in and out of the facility’s other runway. Kansai airport officials said Thursday that final preparations were being made to open some domestic routes out of Terminal 1 on Friday morning, saying that the main runway was also ready to begin operations.
Actual use of the main runway could take a few days, however, as it depends on repair work to deal with the damaged bridge that connects the airport to the mainland. A large floating crane being used in the operation lies close enough to one end of the main runway that it is a risk to flights. .
Peach Aviation, a low-cost carrier based at the airport, announced Thursday that it was resuming all international flights there on Friday. The airline flies to six cities in China, South Korea, and Taiwan from Kansai.
“Peach has been resuming its flight operations step by step in the wake of Typhoon Jebi,” said Shinichi Inoue, Peach’s Representative Director and CEO in a statement Friday afternoon. “We’re happy to announce the resumption of our full international schedule from September 14.”
The move by Kansai airport officials comes as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in response to a request from Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, announced Thursday that a maximum of 20 round-trip flights a day would be sent to Itami and 15 round-trip flights a day would be shifted to Kobe. The ministry first had to get approval for the shift from local governments near Osaka’s Itami airport and in Kobe, which will see increases in takeoffs and landings from about 370 to 410, and from 60 to 90, respectively. The issue is particularly sensitive around Itami airport, which is located in a crowded area where residents have long complained about noise pollution. As a result, the transport ministry limits flight operations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Despite a request by Matsui to keep Itami open until 10 p.m., those hours of operation will remain.
At Kobe airport, which is located just offshore from the city center, noise pollution is not a major issue. Daily flight operationswill be extended by two hours and will begin at 6 a.m. and end at 11 p.m.