Iwakuni runway will open for military, commercial use
The runway facilities at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni will be used for both military and commercial aircraft operations, base officials said Friday.
The U.S.-Japan Joint Committee informed the base Friday morning of “an agreement to allow civil aviation operations at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni,” said base spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton.
“The appropriate U.S. and Japanese government agencies” would coordinate related details, including the “identification of requirements for new and/or separate facilities to support civil aviation operations,” Upton said. No additional details — including when joint use might start or which runways are affected — were provided.
A new $2.2 billion runway under construction in Iwakuni won’t be completed for about four years, project engineers have said. For several years now, local officials have voiced their interest in commercial use of that runway, as well as the existing strip.
The air station served as a commercial airport from 1952 to 1964. Japanese officials point to precedents for joint use at Misawa Air Base and many Japan Self-Defense Forces bases.
Once complete, the new airstrip will be one of the best on the western Pacific Rim, Japanese and U.S. officials have said.
The 8,052-foot runway is to be located about 1,000 yards offshore, with safeguards against natural disasters such as earthquakes.