|Operator||Sendai International Airport Co.,Ltd.|
|Elevation AMSL||6 ft / 2 m|
Source: Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Sendai Airport (仙台空港 Sendai Kūkō) (IATA: SDJ, ICAO: RJSS) is an international airport located in the city of Natori, Miyagi, 13.6 km (8.5 mi) south southeast of Sendai metropolis, Sendai, Japan. The airport is nicknamed Sendai International Airport (仙台国際空港 Sendai Kokusai Kūkō).
In 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army built Sendai Airport in order to use it for the Kumagaya Army Flight School, Masda Branch School Trainee Training Center. It was called by several names: Natory Airfield, Masda Airfield, and Yatory Airfield. In 1943, the Miho Army Flight Center moved into Sendai Airport and facilities were expanded and later reformed into the Sendai Army Flight School.
At the end of World War II, the United States Army took control of the airport and its operations. In 1956, it was returned to Japan and transferred to the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Transport was designated to administer and use it.
In 1957, the runway was extended to 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) and Nippon Helicopter Transport (now All Nippon Airways) established a route from Tokyo's (Haneda Airport) to Sendai. When the airport began to service commercial jets on 14 February 1970, runway 09/27 was extended to 2,000 metres (6,562 ft). Also, the flight school of Japan Ground Self Defense Force moved into North Utsunomiya Army Post.
Beginning 6 April 1990, Asiana Airlines established a route from Seoul (Gimpo International Airport) to Sendai, thus beginning international service from the airport. Air China began scheduled service to Beijing via Dalian in 1994, which was followed by services to Shanghai and Changchun.
In 1992, Runway 09/27 was extended further to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) and 5 years later, in 1997, a new terminal was opened.
2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
On 11 March 2011, the airport was first damaged by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and then badly flooded by the subsequent tsunami. In addition to submerging the tarmac, taxiways and runway, the floodwaters reached up to parts of the 2nd level of the passenger terminal, rendering electrical equipment, transformers and safety equipment inoperable. Operations at Sendai as well as Odate-Noshiro Airport and Sado Airport, which had been controlled by Sendai Airport control tower, were suspended. Some 1300 people were stranded within the terminal until 13 March, when they were evacuated. By 17 March military engineers partially opened the airport for tsunami response flights.
To reopen the airport, on 16 March 2011, a U.S. Air Force MC-130P Combat Shadow from the 17th Special Operations Squadron infiltrated a team from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron from Kadena Air Base into Matsushima, Miyagi, then moved overland to the airport. With assistance from Japan Self-Defense Forces, enough debris was removed in a few days to allow an MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft to begin landing with more equipment, personnel, and supplies. After further cleanup with help from additional US and Japanese military units, on 20 March 2011 a US Air Force C-17 landed at the airport with 40 metric tons of relief supplies. Thereafter, the airport served as a transit location for airlifted supplies, totaling approximately 2 million tons of such items as blankets, water, and food. The US military set up and operated air traffic control operations for the airport until shortly before commercial traffic resumed, at which point air traffic control responsibility was resumed by Japanese controllers.
The airport reopened to limited commercial traffic on 13 April 2011. Japan Airlines and ANA conducted a total of six flights a day to Tokyo Haneda Airport upon resumption of services, with Japan Airlines also offering limited flights to Osaka Itami airport.
Although most international services from Sendai came back online following the 2011 disaster, most services between Sendai and China were suspended or cancelled between 2012 and 2013 due to worsened Sino-Japanese relations. Asiana Airlines also reduced the frequency of its Sendai-Seoul service in September 2013. Despite the reduction in China and Korea service, 2013 saw new service from Sendai to Bangkok and Honolulu as well as new charter service to Taipei.
Accidents and incidents
- In 1963, All Nippon Airways Flight 802 missed its approach and crashed at the airport, but there were no fatalities.
- On 13 November 2012, a 550-pound (250 kg) World War II bomb was defused and removed after being discovered during reconstruction from tsunami damage.
There are 4 floors in the terminal:
- G1: arrivals area (domestic and international), baggage claim, customs, central Plaza – G1
- M2 – arrivals concourse, atrium, customs control area
- 2 – departure area (domestic and international), airline offices, check-in counters, lounges and waiting area.
- 3 – retail shops (4), business lounge, waiting area and access to observation deck
The airport has 8 Jet bridges to handle aircraft coming and leaving the airport.
The west end of the terminal services domestic routes and the east side international routes.
The control tower, Tokyo Regional Civil Aviation Bureau office and Air Cargo Terminal are located on the west side of the main terminal building.
To the south side of the airport are the facilities for small private aircraft, helipads (4) and aircraft hangars.
The Sendai Airport Line, which connects the airport to Sendai Station, opened on 18 March 2007. The journey to the downtown core of the city takes 17–25 minutes. After the earthquake and tsunami service was suspended until 1 October of that year.
The airport can be accessed by car via Sendai-Tobu Toll Road via Route 20. There are two car parks located near the terminal building (Parking 1 with 970 spots) and east side of the airport property (Parking 2 with 250 spots).
Buses and taxis also service the airport and located outside the Domestic Terminal:
- Buses: Miyagi Kotsu (to Natori JR Station), Iwanuma Shimin (Iwanuma JR Station) and Sendai (Yamagat Zao – seasonal)
- Taxis – Sendai City and Tatekoshi JR Station
Airlines and destinations
The airlines that operate at the airport mainly fly to domestic destinations. The few international flights are to destinations in the Far East, Guam and Hawaii.
Because of the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, all scheduled service (except for humanitarian flights) were suspended from 11 March 2011 until 13 April 2011. Limited services resumed on 13 April 2011, although not all original Sendai destinations were served. Regular domestic flights resumed on 25 July 2011 and most international flights resumed in October 2011.
- "Sendai Airport" (PDF). Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- AIS Japan Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "仙台空港、消える中国便 政治が影、民営化に打撃も". 日本経済新聞 (in Japanese). 19 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "News: Tsunami rolls through Pacific, Sendai Airport under water, Tokyo Narita closed, Pacific region airports endangered". Avherald.com. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
- McLean, Alan; Quealy, Kevin; Ericson, Matthew (13 March 2011). "Satellite Photos – Japan Before and After Tsunami". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- 「仙台空港ビル 3/11 20:40現在 中２階まで浸水 現在周辺住民も含めて、目算で約1300名が避難中、孤立状況 3/13 9:00現在 老人・重病者２００名が空港外へ避難完了 3/15 14:00現在 中2階まで浸水しており、調査の結果、1階部に設置してある電気設備・受変電設備・ボイラー・空調設備・自家発電・消防設備・ 監視カメラ等の機械電気設備は全滅状態である。」"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Japan's Sendai Airport Opens Runway For Relief Efforts". Sendai Airport. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- Sankei Shimbun, "Elite U.S. airborne unit dropped over an airport and restores it", 27 March 2011.
- Fackler, Martin, "U.S. Airmen Quietly Reopen Wrecked Airport in Japan", New York Times, 13 April 2011.
- Koh, Yoree (8 April 2011). "Sendai Airport Back in Business April 13". The Wall Street Journal.
- Kyodo News, "Sendai Airport partially resumes domestic flights after quake", 13 April 2011.
- Mutzabaugh, Ben (30 October 2012). "WWII bomb closes Japan's Sendai airport". USER Today. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Johnson, Julia M. (4 March 2005). "Obata keeps HOK's focus on meeting people's needs". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2007.
- "Tsunami-hit Japan airport set to reopen". Herald Sun/AFP. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
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