The first international flight from Sendai Airport in the severely affected Miyagi Prefecture took off on Sunday since the cataclysmic March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Passengers boarded in a fully-booked flight of the Asiana Airlines to Seoul, South Korea.
Yoon Young Doo, the president and CEO of the South Korean airline, was onboard the plane as it arrived in Sendai Airport. He said the airline resumed its operations a month earlier than planned because of the strong demand from local residents.
Flights to Taiwan and Guam will follow suit next month while Beijing-bound flights will resume in March next year.
Sendai Airport already resumed domestic operations in July but international services were halted because many airlines wanted to know the results of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
Around 30 officials from the airport and the local government, including Transport Minister Takeshi Maeda, attended an opening ceremony to witness the resumption of international flight services after these were suspended in the wake of the massive March 11 quake and tsunami. Maeda commended the officials and staff who made possible the reopening of the airport.
Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai expressed hope that the resumption of airport services “will activate the exchanges of people and goods and help rebuild the entire Tohoku region."
The airport was badly flooded and its runways and facilities were damaged due to the disaster that hit Japan six months ago.
Photo by: rogerbarker