Japan's Kansai Airport to Shut Runways Sunday as Typhoon Nears

(Bloomberg) -- Kansai International Airport is planning to shut down its runways Sunday as a powerful typhoon is expected to pass through the western Japan region.

The airport’s operator said it will close two runways from 11 a.m. local time on Sunday to 6 a.m. on Monday, halting all takeoffs and landings. Train services also are expected to be impacted. West Japan Railway Co. said that it plans to halt local train services Sunday and will suspend bullet train services from late morning between Shin Osaka and Hiroshima stations.

Typhoon Trami was located about 40 kilometers east northeast of Kume Island in Okinawa Prefecture as of 2:45 p.m. local time Saturday, moving north at 20 kilometers per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency website. The typhoon is expected to remain extremely powerful when it reaches western Japan on Sunday, the agency said in a statement.

The typhoon is expected to pick up speed when it passes through the eastern and northern areas of the country on Monday. The agency warned that heavy rains and strong wind are expected in many areas of Japan.

Airline cancellations from Trami so far have centered on Okinawa, the southern Japan island chain with a large U.S. military presence. Japan Airlines Co. canceled 58 flights in the prefecture affecting 8,250 passengers as of 4 p.m. local time Saturday, the airline said in a statement. JAL plans to suspend 61 flights on Sunday. ANA Holdings Inc. halted 124 domestic flights at Okinawa airports on Saturday and plans to scratch 99 domestic and two international flights on Sunday, it said in a statement.

More than half of the cities in Okinawa, which is scheduled to hold a gubernatorial election on Sunday, decided to cancel early voting on Saturday, Kyodo reported, citing the prefecture’s election commission.

Kansai Airport, which lies on an artificial island, was forced to shut down earlier this month after Typhoon Jebi flooded its runways and damaged a rail bridge connecting it to the mainland. The airport is the country’s third-largest by passenger numbers, behind the Haneda and Narita facilities that serve Tokyo, and is the gateway to the Osaka region.

Kansai Airport’s operator has been preparing sandbags since Thursday and plans to deploy about 24,000 this weekend, said an official who asked not to be identified because of the airport’s policy. The airport still has not fully recovered operations following Jebi, which was the strongest tropical cyclone to come ashore in the region in 25 years.

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