Subscribe

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Following seven months of labor and an almost $1 million investment, Misawa turned the key Thursday on a renovated Air Mobility Command passenger terminal.

It remains at the same location — Building 943 — but the interior has been redesigned almost totally to make it more spacious and efficient.

“Departure lounge capacity went from 170 to 320 passengers,” said Maj. Monte Harner, 35th Civil Engineering Squadron engineering flight chief. “We reconfigured how the terminal operates, too.”

One new efficiency, Harner said, is that baggage now is brought from the aircraft to a covered receiving area that protects bags from Misawa’s sometimes savage weather.

“Passengers can claim baggage at the conveyor and exit the terminal without having to walk through the ticketing area anymore,” he said.

A minor expansion increased floor space by just more than 2,520 square feet, to a total of 16,070 square feet.

Harner said contractor Tanaka Gumi of Towada, Japan, completed the renovation work for approximately $950,000.

“The AMC terminal was originally built in 1985 when passengers came in on military air flights like the C-141,” said Master Sgt. Raymond Malik, chief of AMC’s Operating Location-B, as the terminal is known in military parlance. “The building was inadequate all along for the amount of people it handled.”

Military aircraft used to haul passengers in and out of Misawa in the mid-1980s carried from 100 to 130 persons. America Trans Air’s Patriot Express L-1011 aircraft, which stops at Misawa three times each month, now brings in up to 280 passengers.

“Our mission hasn’t changed,” Harner said. “Larger aircraft used for the Patriot Express means a larger pulse of passengers arriving here at the same time.”

AMC-mandated force-protection requirements also were engineered into the renovation effort. “A single point of entry — meaning all passengers enter and exit through same portal — can be instituted as security postures change,” Harner said.

Citing force-protection concerns, he said other security additions engineered into the project could not be disclosed.

The terminal’s heating and air conditioning system also was upgraded, new floor tile replaced older asbestos-backed tiles, walls received a vinyl coating to make cleaning easier, bathrooms were upgraded with new equipment and lounges received new carpeting.

During the renovation, since August, a more than 40-year-old building next to the Navy passenger terminal served as a temporary passenger terminal.

Kim Swearingen, AMC passenger service supervisor, said from 400 to 500 passengers use the AMC terminal monthly. He predicted passengers will be pleased.

“Our traffic flow will be much improved, especially on the day when the Patriot Express operates,” he said. “The old floor plan was a flawed design; now, it’s designed the way it should be.”

Harner agreed. “Outgoing passengers will see an improved flow from time they check in until they board the aircraft,” Harner said. “It’s a much more open, comfortable and attractive facility.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up