Fukuoka Airport

Coordinates: 33°35′04″N 130°27′06″E / 33.58444°N 130.45167°E / 33.58444; 130.45167
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fukuoka Airport


Fukuoka Kūkō
Airport typePublic / Military
Owner/OperatorFukuoka International Airport Co.[1][2]
LocationFukuoka, Japan
Opened1944; 80 years ago (1944)
Focus city for
Operating base forSkymark Airlines
Elevation AMSL30 ft / 9 m
Coordinates33°35′04″N 130°27′06″E / 33.58444°N 130.45167°E / 33.58444; 130.45167
RJFF is located in Fukuoka city
Location in Fukuoka
RJFF is located in Fukuoka Prefecture
Location in Fukuoka Prefecture
RJFF is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Direction Length Surface
m ft
16/34 2,800 9,186 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2015)
Cargo (metric tonnes)246,769
Aircraft movement173,680

Fukuoka Airport (福岡空港, Fukuoka Kūkō) (IATA: FUK, ICAO: RJFF), formerly known as Itazuke Air Base, is an international and domestic airport located 1.6 NM (3.0 km; 1.8 mi) east of Hakata Station[4] in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan. The facility has one 2,800 m (9,186 ft) runway and covers 355 hectares (877 acres) of land.[5]

Fukuoka Airport is the principal airport on the island of Kyushu and is the fourth busiest passenger airport in Japan.[6] As of 2017, the airport is the fourth busiest single-runway airport in the world by passenger traffic (after Mumbai, London–Gatwick and İstanbul-Sabiha Gökçen).[7] The airport is surrounded by residential areas and due to their geographic location, all of its flights have to stop at 10 p.m. every day at the request of local residents and resume operation at 7 a.m. The domestic terminal is connected to the city by the Fukuoka City Subway, and a subway from the airport to the business district takes less than ten minutes. The international terminal is only accessible by road, although there is scheduled bus service to Hakata Station and the Tenjin area.[8] Alternatives to access the Fukuoka area include Saga Airport and Kitakyushu Airport.


The airport was built in 1944 by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force as Mushiroda Airfield.[9] After the war, the United States Air Force used the airfield as Itazuke Air Base from 1945 to 1972.[9] Itazuke actually comprised three installations: Itazuke AB, Itazuke (Kasuga) Administration Annex and Brady Air Base (Camp Brady). Itazuke and the Kasuga Annex were on the mainland while Brady was in Saitozaki; on the peninsula (Umi no Nakamichi) that forms Hakata Bay. Part of the confusion with the names stem from the days when the annex and Brady AB were Army installations before the USAF took command in 1956.

At its height, Itazuke AB was the largest USAF base on Kyūshū, but was closed in 1972 due to budget reductions and the overall reduction of United States military forces in Japan.

Japanese military base[edit]

Mushiroda was built by American and Allied POWs on farmland that once grew bumper rice crops during 1943. The base was first used by trainer aircraft. The airfield soon proved unserviceable for the fledgling flyers because of the high water level of the former rice lands. Frequent rain showers flooded the runway making it unsafe for the novice aviators.

The Japanese Air Force's 6th Fighter Wing replaced the trainers and Mushiroda became an air defense base. The 6th Wing had 30 single engine fighters and several reconnaissance aircraft to patrol the Okinawa-Kyūshū aerial invasion corridor. In April 1945, the Tachiarai Airfield near Kurume was destroyed by American B-29's. Tachiarai's bomber aircraft were moved to Mushiroda and the base became very active until late in the war when B-29's attacked the airfield and destroyed most of the Imperial Japanese forces stationed here.

Postwar era[edit]

The first American units moved into the facility in November 1945, when the 38th Bombardment Group stationed B-25 Mitchells on the airfield. Moving to Itazuke from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, the mission of the 38th Bomb Group was to fly daily surveillance missions to monitor shipping traffic between Kyūshū and Korea in order to intradict smuggling of illegal Korean immigrants and goods. Along with the 38th, the 8th Fighter Group was assigned to the airfield on 1 April 1946 which performed occupation duties until April 1947. Due to the massive destruction of the facility during the War, the only available buildings to house personnel was the Kyūshū Airplane Company's complex in Zasshonokuma. Designated Base Two, the former aircraft company was converted to barracks, dining halls, a post exchange, and BOQ. Additional facilities and billets were housed in a tent city at the airfield.

The 38th Bomb Group remained at Itazuke until October 1946 also during with time several reconstruction units worked on the former IJAAF base rebuilding and constructing new facilities. Headquarters, 315th Bombardment Wing moved into the base during May 1946, spending most of the postwar occupation years at the new American Air Force base.

When the 38th Bomb Group moved to Itami Airfield, it was replaced by the P-61 Black Widow-equipped 347th Fighter Group that moved from Nagoya Airfield. The 347th's mission was to provide air defense of Japanese airspace with the long range former night fighter. the 347th Fighter Wing, All Weather, was established at Itazuke in August 1948 when the unit was reformed under the new United States Air Force "Base-Wing" reorganization. The 347th moved to Bofu Air Base in October. It was replaced by the 475th Fighter Wing which brought with it the new F-82 Twin Mustangs, replacing the wartime Black Widows for air defense missions. Once up to full strength, it was moved to Ashiya Airfield in March 1949.

By early 1949, reconstruction of Itazuke was complete along the construction of long jet runways. The 8th Fighter Wing moved in during March with the F-80C Shooting Star jet, which provided air interceptor defense of Japan.

Korean War[edit]

The flightline at Itazuke Air Base, Japan, 1950. The F-82 in the foreground belongs to the 69th All Weather Fighter Squadron, and the F-80s are assigned to the eighth Fighter-Bomber Group.

Itazuke played a key role in the Korean War and the defense of the Pusan perimeter in 1950.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting a war that would last three years. Being the closest USAF base to the Korean Peninsula, the 8th Fighter Wing at Itazuke initially provided air cover for the evacuation of Americans from Korea on June 26, the day after the invasion. In these early operations, Itazuke Air Base supported F-80C Shooting Star jet fighters of the 8th Fighter Wing, along with propeller driven aircraft such as the F-82C Twin Mustangs of the 68th Fighter Squadron, All Weather, and P-51D Mustangs which were shipped from the United States for ground support missions in South Korea. The first aerial victory of the Korean War went to 1Lt William G. Hudson, of the 68th Fighter Squadron, All Weather in an F-82.

During the Korean War, Itazuke was a major combat airfield for the USAF. The 8th Fighter Wing moved to a forward base in South Korea in late Fall of 1950. With the move, the support element that remained at Itazuke was redesignated the 6160th Air Base Wing. The USAF moved several of its combat units to the base for operations over Korea, these being the 49th Fighter Group, the 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing; the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing; the 452d Bombardment Wing; the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing and the Texas Air National Guard 136th Fighter Group. A wide variety of aircraft operated from the airfield from twin-engined B-26 Invader tactical bombers, F-80 Shooting Stars, F-84 Thunderjets, F-82 Twin Mustangs and F-94 Starfire jet interceptors.

Cold War[edit]

After the 1953 Armistice in Korea, the wartime combat units were slowly withdrawn back to the United States or reassigned to other airfields in Japan and South Korea. The base settled down to another era of peace to become the key base in the defense of Western Japan. The 8th Fighter Wing returned to Itazuke from its forward airfield at Suwon AB (K-13), South Korea in October 1954, being the host unit at the base for the next ten years.

During the 1950s, the 8th flew the F-86 Sabre for air defense of Japan and South Korea, being upgraded to the new F-100 Super Sabre in 1956. In 1961 the wing received Air Defense Command F-102 Delta Daggers, specifically designed for the air defense mission.

The eighth was reassigned back to the United States in July 1964 to George AFB, California where it was equipped with the new F-4C Phantom II and eventually became a major USAF combat wing in Thailand during the Vietnam War. With the departure of the eighth TFW, the 348th Combat Support Group became the host unit at Itazuke, with the Pacific Air Forces 41st Air Division becoming the operational USAF unit at the base. During the 1960s and numerous rotational units from the United States deployed to the base. The F-105 Thunderchief-equipped 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron was the major flying organization until 1968, when it was moved to Thailand for combat operations over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, a detachment of the 552d Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing which operated C-121 Constellation AWACS aircraft operated from Itazuke, but the stable situation in South Korea led to the gradual phase down of the base and personnel were withdrawn for other duties.

On June 2, 1968, at 10:48pm, a USAF RF-4C Phantom jet, which had taken off from Itazuke, experienced engine trouble, and after the two crew members safely ejected, the jet crashed into the Large Computer Center building of the Hakozaki Campus of Kyushu University, located in the East Ward of Fukuoka City. The building had just been built, and personnel had not yet moved in, so there were no casualties on the ground. Occurring as it did at the start of the 1968–1969 Japanese university protests, the crash helped ignite large-scale demonstrations at the university. The early demonstrations included participation by the university president and faculty, calling for American military to be removed from the Itazuke Base, claiming that its presence in an urban area was a danger. At a June 20 Japan-U.S. Joint Committee meeting, the Japanese representatives proposed that the Itazuke Airfield be relocated, and the American representatives stated that it would consider moving to an alternative site. In time New Left student groups at Kyushu University took the demonstrations in more radical directions, building barricades on campus, fighting with each other, and disrupting or cancelling classes, the graduation ceremony, and entrance examinations. The wreckage of the Phantom jet was not removed until January 5, 1969. The demonstrations continued until October 14, 1969, when riot police entered the campus and tore down the barricades.[10]

In 1970 it was announced that Itazuke would be returned to Japanese control,[9] and the USAF facilities were closed on 31 March 1972.

Civilian usage[edit]

Airport diagram
Fukuoka Airport terminal 2 at night
International terminal departure floor

Fukuoka's first civilian air service was Japan Airlines' Fukuoka-Osaka-Tokyo service, which commenced in 1951. JAL introduced jet service on the Fukuoka-Tokyo route in 1961. The airport's first international service was to nearby Busan, South Korea, beginning in 1965.[9] Air Siam and Air France both began long-haul service to Fukuoka in 1975, but withdrew within two years.

In October 1998, Delta Air Lines started a non-stop flight between Fukuoka and its transpacific hub in Portland using a McDonnell Douglas MD-11.[11][12] It dropped the route the following September due to a decline in the Japanese economy.[13] Japan Airlines operated flights from Fukuoka to Hawaii until withdrawing in 2005. Delta launched service to Honolulu in 2011, which was successful beyond expectations, particularly due to the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen which made it a convenient resort route offering for passengers from throughout Kyushu. This led to an increase of Delta's frequencies in 2012, as well as Hawaiian Airlines offering a daily Fukuoka-Honolulu service.[14]

In April 2013, KLM inaugurated a flight to Amsterdam aboard a Boeing 777. This was the first direct service between Fukuoka and Europe.[15] KLM discontinued it in January 2016.[16][17] Four months later, Finnair introduced seasonal flights to Helsinki. The airline utilised Airbus A330s on the route.[18] The last flight took off in 2019; Finnair suspended the link because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because Russia closed its airspace to the airline after invading Ukraine.[19][20]


Although Fukuoka is known as one of the most convenient airports in Japan, it is constrained both by its inner-city location and by its single runway.[21] The International Terminal was opened in 1999. Operations at the airport began to exceed its capacity of 145,000 annual flights in 2012, the year in which several new low-cost carriers began operation.[22] The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau has announced that Fukuoka will be designated as a "congested airport" (IATA Level 3) from late March 2016, meaning that the airport will be subject to slot restrictions and operators will have to receive 5-year permits from JCAB in order to operate at FUK.[23]

With Fukuoka's ambitions to become a hub for business and travel in East Asia, moving the airport further inland or to an offshore artificial island to accommodate increased traffic has been considered. However, the idea of a new airport in the sea off Shingu has been opposed by environmentalists. The Gan-no-su coastal area has also been mooted, and it was the site of an airfield in the 1940s, but similar environmental concerns exist there. There is some debate as to whether a new airport is really needed, given the cost, the environmental problems, and the available capacity at alternates Kitakyushu Airport and Saga Airport, though much more distant from the city center.

As of July 2013, the Japanese government was considering building a second 2,800 m (9,200 ft) parallel runway within the existing airfield at a cost of 180 billion yen, two-thirds of which would be borne by the national government and the remaining third of which would be borne by the local government by 2019.[21] As of April 2017, FUK will follow the model of other airports nationwide and undergo privatization. Construction of the second runway and a second parallel taxiway on the domestic side are both scheduled by fiscal year 2024 in order to free up traffic jams that currently occur due to overcrowding on the ground.[24]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate scheduled passenger flights to and from Fukuoka:

Air Busan Busan, Seoul–Incheon
Air China Beijing–Capital, Dalian,[25] Shanghai–Pudong[26]
Air Do Sapporo–Chitose[27]
Air Macau Macau (resumes 12 July 2024)[28]
Air Seoul Seoul–Incheon[29]
All Nippon Airways Nagoya–Centrair, Naha, Sapporo–Chitose, Tokyo–Haneda
Amakusa Airlines Amakusa
ANA Wings Fukue, Komatsu, Miyazaki, Nagoya–Centrair, Naha, Osaka–Itami, Sapporo–Chitose, Tokyo–Haneda, Tsushima
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong[30]
Cebu Pacific Manila
China Airlines Taipei–Taoyuan
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
Eastar Jet Seoul–Incheon[31]
EVA Air Kaohsiung, Taipei–Taoyuan
Fuji Dream Airlines Matsumoto, Nagoya–Komaki, Niigata, Shizuoka
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu[32]
HK Express Hong Kong
Hong Kong Airlines Hong Kong[33]
Ibex Airlines Nagoya–Centrair, Niigata, Osaka–Itami, Sendai
J-Air Amami Ōshima, Hanamaki, Kōchi-Ryoma, Matsuyama, Miyazaki, Osaka–Itami, Sendai, Tokushima
Japan Air Commuter Izumo, Kagoshima, Tanegashima, Yakushima
Japan Airlines Sapporo–Chitose, Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita
Japan Transocean Air Naha
Jeju Air Busan, Jeju,[34] Seoul–Incheon
Seasonal: Muan[34]
Jetstar Japan Nagoya–Centrair, Osaka–Kansai, Tokyo–Narita
Jin Air Busan, Seoul–Incheon
Korean Air Busan,[35] Seoul–Incheon
Oriental Air Bridge Fukue, Miyazaki, Nagoya–Centrair,[36] Tsushima[37]
Peach Naha, Osaka–Kansai, Sapporo–Chitose,[38] Tokyo–Narita
Philippine Airlines Manila
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai–Pudong[39]
Singapore Airlines Singapore
Skymark Airlines Ibaraki, Naha, Sapporo–Chitose, Shimojishima,[40] Tokyo–Haneda
Solaseed Air Naha[41]
Spring Airlines Dalian, Shanghai–Pudong[42]
StarFlyer Nagoya–Centrair, Tokyo–Haneda
Starlux Airlines Taipei–Taoyuan[43]
Thai AirAsia Bangkok–Don Mueang[44]
Thai Airways International Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Thai VietJet Air Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi[45]
Tigerair Taiwan Kaohsiung,[46] Taipei–Taoyuan
T'way Air Cheongju,[47] Daegu,[48] Seoul–Incheon
United Airlines Guam
VietJet Air Hanoi[49]
Vietnam Airlines Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • In December 1949, a second-year middle school student on a road outside of the airport died from burns received from gasoline fuel dumped from an in-flight airplane.[50]
  • On May 10, 1951, a USAF F86 crashed into the Futamatase neighborhood near Itazuke, destroying five houses, and killing 11 residents.[51]
  • On December 27, 1951, a USAF Douglas C-47 crashed during takeoff against a maintenance hangar from 30 meters altitude and caught fire. Four occupants were killed and 19 were injured. There was eight ground personnel injuries.[52]
  • In September 1952, a military aircraft crashed into a private home near the Josei neighborhood, Sawara Ward, Fukuoka City. The house was destroyed, and one person killed.[53]
  • On November 13, 1957, a U.S. military aircraft dropped an auxiliary tank on the Yoshizuka neighborhood, East Ward, Fukuoka City, completely destroying one house, damaging two others, and killing one person.[54]
  • On December 7, 1961, a U.S. F100 crashed in the Kashii neighborhood, East Ward, Fukuoka City, destroying three houses, and killing four people, including a mother and child. [55]
  • On June 2, 1968, a USAF F-4 Phantom crashed into the Hakozaki Campus of Kyushu University soon after takeoff from Itazuke. There were no casualties. The crash ignited a year of intense student protests at Kyushu University.
  • On March 31, 1970, Japan Airlines Flight 351, carrying 131 passengers and 7 crew from Tokyo to Fukuoka, was hijacked by 9 members of the Japanese Red Army group. 23 passengers were freed at Fukuoka Airport, mainly children or the elderly. 108 passengers and all crew members with the Red Army group left Fukuoka, bound for Gimpo Airport, near Seoul. Three days later, the Red Army group asked to be flown to North Korea's capital Pyongyang, before leaving from Seoul, 103 passenger and crew hostages were freed, and 9 Red Army group members surrendered to North Korean authorities.[56]
  • On December 17, 1989, a hijacked CAAC Flight 981 plane made an emergency landing at the airport. The suspect, a Chinese national, was extradited to China after having been detained in Japan for four months. He was later tried there and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and an additional two years of disfranchisement on July 18, 1990.[57]
  • On June 13, 1996, a Garuda Indonesia Airways DC-10, Flight 865, crashed on take-off, killing 3 passengers and injuring 18. The pilot appeared to hesitate about applying full throttle upon a single engine failure. The crash occurred within the airport perimeter when the aircraft was already airborne, nine feet off the ground.[58]
  • On August 12, 2005, JALways Flight 58 [ja] operating on a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 suffered an explosive engine failure on take-off. The aircraft safely returned to the airport with no casualties on board, but several people on the ground suffered burns from touching fallen debris from the engine, and a car's windshield was damaged.[59][60]


Annual passenger traffic at FUK airport. See Wikidata query.
Fiscal Year International Domestic Total
1996 2,532,228 14,126,047 16,658,275
1997 2,452,042 14,893,121 17,345,163
1998 2,326,204 15,608,193 17,934,397
1999 2,412,011 17,091,497 19,503,508
2000 2,528,138 17,041,371 19,569,509
2001 2,087,197 17,411,991 19,499,188
2002 2,279,467 17,398,296 19,677,763
2003 1,659,386 16,823,714 18,483,100
2004 2,245,091 16,328,107 18,573,198
2005 2,173,692 16,386,878 18,560,570
2006 2,238,188 15,885,543 18,123,731
2007 2,274,954 15,551,128 17,826,082
2008 2,041,711 14,775,647 16,817,358
2009 2,102,034 13,924,411 16,026,445
2010 2,426,396 13,527,260 15,953,656
2011 2,547,303 13,254,849 15,802,152
2012 3,039,507 14,742,677 17,782,184
2013 3,189,780 16,102,247 19,292,027
2014 3,672,011 16,332,309 20,004,320
2015 4,646,406 16,721,320 21,367,726
2016 5,179,508 17,139,319 22,318,827
2017 6,333,487 17,645,735 23,979,222
2018 6,918,571 17,926,887 24,845,458
Source: Civil Aviation Bureau Units: persons[61]

Current Japan Self-Defense Force Units[edit]

Commanded from the nearby Kasuga Air Base:

Nearby major airports[edit]

KKJ (61 km (38 mi))
HSG (77 km (48 mi))
KMJ (91 km (57 mi))
OIT (119 km (74 mi))
UBJ (85 km (53 mi))
NGS (85 km (53 mi))
IKI (89 km (55 mi))
TSJ (120 km (75 mi))

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency

  • Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
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  57. ^ ja:中国民航機ハイジャック事件
  58. ^ ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 PK-GIE Fukuoka Airport (FUK)
  59. ^ "CSR報告書2006" (Press release) (in Japanese). Japan Airlines. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  60. ^ "航空:イレギュラー運航の発生状況(平成17年8月)". MLIT. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  61. ^ "Overview of Fukuoka Airport | Fukuoka Airport".

External links[edit]

Media related to Fukuoka Airport at Wikimedia Commons