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Sendai Airport

Sendai Airport
Sendai Kūkō
Airport type Public
Operator Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Location Sendai
Elevation AMSL 6 ft / 2 m
RJSS is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 3,000 9,843 Asphalt concrete
12/30 1,200 3,937 Asphalt concrete
Source: Japanese AIP at AIS Japan[1]

Sendai Airport (仙台空港 Sendai Kūkō) (ICAO: RJSS) is an airport located in Natori, Miyagi, 13.6 km (8.5 mi) south southeast of Sendai Station,[1] Sendai, Japan.


  • History 1
    • 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami 1.1
    • Accidents and incidents 1.2
  • Facilities 2
  • Transportation 3
  • Airlines and destinations 4
    • Current Service 4.1
    • Charter 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army built Sendai Airport in order to use it for the Kumakaya 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 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 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 B 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 to 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.[2]

In 1992, Runway B was extended further to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) and 5 years later, in 1997, a new terminal was opened.

The Sendai Airport Line rail link was completed on 18 March 2007 and began service between Sendai Station and Sendai Airport Station. The "Smile Terrace" observation deck opened on 19 March 2010.

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

Tsunami flooding around the airport
US Air Force personnel move supplies during efforts to reopen Sendai Airport.
Vehicle debris on Sendai airport access road after tsunami

On 11 March 2011, the airport was first damaged by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and then badly flooded by the subsequent tsunami.[3] In addition to submerging the tarmac, taxiways and runway,[4] the floodwaters reached up to parts of the 2nd level of the passenger terminal, rendering electrical equipment, transformers and safety equipment inoperable.[5] 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.[5] By 17 March military engineers partially opened the airport for tsunami response flights.[6]

To reopen the airport, on 16 March 2011 a team from the United States Air Force's 320th Special Tactics Squadron from Kadena Air Base parachuted into Matsushima, Miyagi, then moved overland to the airport. With assistance from Japan Self-Defense Forces, enough debris was removed in a few hours to allow Lockheed C-130 Hercules 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.[7] 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.[8]

The airport reopened to limited commercial traffic on 13 April 2011.[9] 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.[10][11]

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.[2]

Accidents and incidents

  • In 1963, All Nippon Airways Flight 802 missed its approach and crashed into 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.[12]


The main passenger terminal building was designed by Japanese American architect Gyo Obata, of the St. Louis architecture firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum.[13]

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 however it reopened 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).[14]

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 October 2011.[15]

Current Service

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air China Beijing-Capital, Shanghai-Pudong International
Air Do Sapporo-Chitose Domestic
All Nippon Airways Fukuoka, Naha, Osaka-Itami, Sapporo-Chitose, Tokyo-Narita Domestic
All Nippon Airways
operated by ANA Wings
Fukuoka, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Itami, Sapporo-Chitose, Tokyo-Narita Domestic
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon International
EVA Air Taipei-Taoyuan International
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu International
Ibex Airlines Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Komatsu, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Itami, Sapporo-Chitose Domestic
Japan Airlines
operated by J-Air
Fukuoka, Osaka-Itami, Sapporo-Chitose Domestic
Peach Osaka-Kansai Domestic
Skymark Airlines Fukuoka, Kobe, Sapporo-Chitose Domestic
Thai Airways Seasonal: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi International
United Airlines Guam International


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air New Zealand Auckland[16] International
All Nippon Airways Honolulu International
Dragonair Hong Kong International
Edelweiss Air Zurich International
Japan Airlines Honolulu, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Taipei-Taoyuan, Zurich International
Japan Transocean Air Kumejima Domestic
Vietnam Airlines Hanoi International


  1. ^ a b AIS Japan
  2. ^ a b "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. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "News: Tsunami rolls through Pacific, Sendai Airport under water, Tokyo Narita closed, Pacific region airports endangered". 6 July 2001. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  4. ^ McLean, Alan; Quealy, Kevin; Ericson, Matthew (13 March 2011). "Satellite Photos – Japan Before and After Tsunami". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b 「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。」
  6. ^ "Japan's Sendai Airport Opens Runway For Relief Efforts". Sendai Airport. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Sankei Shimbun, "Elite U.S. airborne unit dropped over an airport and restores it", 27 March 2011.
  8. ^ Fackler, Martin, "U.S. Airmen Quietly Reopen Wrecked Airport in Japan", New York Times, 13 April 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Koh, Yoree (8 April 2011). "Sendai Airport Back in Business April 13". The Wall Street Journal. 
  11. ^ Kyodo News, "Sendai Airport partially resumes domestic flights after quake", 13 April 2011.
  12. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (30 October 2012). "WWII bomb closes Japan's Sendai airport". USER Today. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Johnson, Julia M. (4 March 2005). "Obata keeps HOK's focus on meeting people's needs". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2007. 
  14. ^ "Tsunami-hit Japan airport set to reopen". Herald Sun/AFP. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links

  • Airport website
  • (Japanese)(English)(simplified Chinese) how-to movies on transportation in Sendai
  • cars and aircraft being washed away by the  
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