Canceled domestic flights due to Tokyo airport collision strand many

Several domestic flights due to arrive at Tokyo's Haneda airport were canceled or delayed Thursday, two days after a Japan Coast Guard plane and a Japan Airline jetliner collided on one of its runways, leaving passengers at some airports in Japan stranded.

At the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, around 200 passengers were stuck overnight, according to an airport operator source, after another group of 256 passengers were stranded from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning due to flight cancelations caused by the collision.

New Chitose's operator Hokkaido Airports Co. has been providing support to passengers, including by distributing mats and sleeping bags, since Tuesday night.

The airport, which handles about 400 daily arrivals and departures, had around a quarter of their flights bound for Haneda.

New Chitose experienced a high number of cancellations, particularly for Haneda-bound flights, with 45 canceled on Tuesday and 28 on Wednesday.

On Thursday, 18 flights to Haneda and some other airports from New Chitose are expected to be canceled.

Ikuro Narayama, a 27-year-old company employee from Tokyo, said his flight to Haneda scheduled for Wednesday was canceled, adding that he had to spend the night in the Hokkaido airport's rest area.

"I have had to change my schedule and it's costing me a lot of money," Narayama said, adding that he is going to travel to the northeastern city of Sendai by plane on Friday and then take the Shinkansen home.

The aftermath of the collision also caused flight delays from Haneda to New Chitose. Some flights were so delayed that they did not arrive there until 3 a.m. on Thursday.

The coast guard aircraft and the JAL plane collided at Haneda airport Tuesday, causing both aircraft to catch fire and killing five coast guard members, while all 379 on board the commercial flight escaped without life-threatening injuries.

Haneda airport kept the affected runway closed on Thursday, the first work day of the New Year, leading to cancellations by JAL and All Nippon Airways, affecting several domestic flights.

© Kyodo News