Spotting Guide: Observation Deck at Kobe Airport

Spotting Guide: Observation Deck at Kobe Airport

As I had some time at Kobe airport during my recent Hawaii trip, I decided to check out the airport’s observation deck. While the airport is not overly interesting for spotters, I decided to write this overview to give you a better idea of what to expect, should you end up there and decide to do some Kobe spotting.

Kobe Airport Overview

Kobe airport features a compact terminal and one runway – 09/27.

Being located just across the bay from the much larger Kansai airport, Kobe airport does not see much traffic. In fact, in order to “protect Kansai airport’s growth,” flight caps have been put in place.

Besides international traffic being limited to charters, domestic traffic is capped at 30 roundtrips a day. Those are operated by:

  • Air Do
  • ANA All Nippon Airways
  • Solaseed Air
  • Skymark Airlines

(You can find the full flight schedule here.)

Kobe Airport Skymark Airlines

Skymark Airlines is the main operator at Kobe airport.

As such, this airport is only worth a visit in case you have a flight in or out of it, or there is some special charter coming in. (For example, the Breitling DC-3 passed through the airport during its World Tour.)

Kobe Airport Observation Deck

If, for one reason or another, you end up wanting to spend some time spotting at Kobe airport, the observation deck is pretty much your only option. Short of being on a boat in Osaka Bay.

The open air observation deck is on the roof (4F) of the terminal.

Kobe Airport Observation Deck

The observation deck can be reached by escalators from the departures floor.
Kobe Airport Observation Deck

The observation deck is located outdoors, on the 4th floor.
Kobe Airport Observation Deck

While the Kobe airport observation deck is fenced off, the holes are large enough to allow for fairly comfortable photography.

It offers nice views of both the apron as well as the sole runway. However, given that it is facing south, it is only usable for daylight photos in summer, and even then only in the early mornings and late evenings.

Solaseed Air 737 at Kobe Airport

A view of the apron, taxiway, runway, and Osaka Bay.

Given that the observation deck is opened until 11PM, night shots can be taken from the observation deck as well.

To give you a better idea of the focal lengths required, below are two photos of the only movement I had the chance to capture during my short stay there – a Solaseed Air flight to Okinawa.

Solaseed Air 737

A Solaseed Air 737 ready to taxi. (115 mm full frame)
Solaseed Air 737

Ready for take-off. (450 mm full frame)

As for amenities, given that the airport is really compact, it is easy to grab something to eat or drink inside the terminal. However, you can also get drinks from the vending machines on the observation deck. …and you can also get some (restricted) views of the non-airport side.

Vending Machines

Vending machines in the observation deck’s elevator hall.

A view towards the mainland.

Kobe Spotting Summary

Given the lack of traffic and spotting locations, “Kobe spotting” is definitely not something that needs to be on a spotters wish list.

However, should you find yourself at the airport for one reason or another, it is definitely worth checking out the observation deck – even if you get just one or two photos for your collection.

Kobe Airport Overview

Overview of Kobe airport apron – about as busy as it gets.

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