In October 2017, Mitsubishi Estate started construction of a new terminal at Shimojishima airport in Okinawa. When announcing the construction, they also mentioned their slogan for the terminal-to-be:
Your resort starts from the Airport.
Having just landed at Shimojishima airport on the first scheduled flight to arrive therein almost 25 years, I can say the slogan is quite appropriate.
Just look at this!
While I will be posting detailed articles about both the flight I was on as well as about the airport later on, for now, here is a quick recap of today.
The First Scheduled Flight to Shimojishima in 25 Years
When Jetstar Japan announced that it would be the first airline operating scheduled flights to Shimojishima (one of the Miyako Islands in Okinawa) and opened the flight for booking, I got myself a ticket for the inaugural flight right away.
After all, it’s not often that an airport resumes scheduled service after a quarter of a century.
This morning, it was finally time to take the flight.
While no “real ceremony” (speeches, etc.) was held at the boarding gate before departure, there was a photo session with the crew before the flight started boarding. And, before having boarding passes scanned, passengers received a dorayaki containing Miyako salt and a Jetstar gift bag with a flight certificate and other memorabilia.
Once in the air – after the seatbelt signs were switched off – the cabin crew handed out flight log sheets that were made by the Captain so that everyone could note down the details of their flight.
The Captain also told us a fairly detailed story of his life over the PA.
A story of how he used to live in Miyakojima near the airport (which greatly influenced his career choice), and how – once he learnt that Jetstar would be launching this flight – he immediately decided he had to be the one operating the flight.
The rest of the three-and-a-half-hour flight was fairly ordinary with the crew doing in-flight sales and so on. The only difference was that there were quite a few people taking photos of the whole process.
Personally, as I only slept a couple of hours before taking the flight, I spent most of the flight sleeping.
We started our descent about thirty minutes before landing. And, not long after that, we could see the coral blue sea that surrounds the island.
Luckily, the tailwind was under 15 knots and so we could land on the airport’s runway 17 – a runway that became famous for a long line of approach lights that goes far into the sea and became a must-see spot for anyone visiting Shimojishima.
The flight came to an end when, after landing, we were – on our way to parking spot 2R – welcomed with a water salute. At the parking spot itself, we were welcomed by a group of local school boys performing a traditional dance.
First Impressions of the New Shimojishima Airport Terminal
The way from the aircraft to the baggage claim area led through a small but nice garden. Then there was the baggage claim area with two belts that was nice and served the purpose, but not anything impressive.
What was very impressive, though, was a large decorative pool of crystal clear water behind the baggage claim area’s windows. I believe it was part of the departures area – and so, I will be able to check it out closer when I take my return flight tomorrow.
In front of the baggage claim area, we were welcomed by the local yuruchara as well as some shamisen music, and a variety of local representatives.
Once I got my gift bag from them, I looked around the rest of the airport a bit.
It was very nice, and with lots of greens and its wooden construction, it really felt quite a bit like a resort.
There was a check-in hall with about a dozen check-in counters and next to that, there was a cafe and a store selling local produce.
After spending some time in the terminal, I decided to walk to my hotel which took about 40 minutes. Understandably, public transportation to the airport is very limited given that currently there is only one flight a day.
That will change soon, though, as in July 2019, Jetstar Japan is planning to launch flights to Osaka and HK Express to Hong Kong – which will become the first international route ever served out of the airport.