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S. Korea's air travel to Japan nearly back to normal

All Headlines 11:03 March 12, 2011

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's air traffic to earthquake-hit Japan has mostly recovered as of early Saturday after one day of disruption, the land ministry and air carriers said.

Air travel between the two countries was partly suspended on Friday after Narita and Haneda airports, the two main gateways to Japan, were closed or partly suspended after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit its northern coast. The most severe earthquake in more than 100 years in Japan, which unleashed a seven-meter-high tsunami, killed hundreds and left northeastern cities in chaos.

As recovery work got under way, however, the two main airports connecting to the capital of Tokyo resumed operations and Korea's regular flights to the neighboring country had mostly returned to normal, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said.

Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., the two Korean air carriers, on Saturday will shuttle between Korea and the two reopened Japanese airports 39 times as scheduled, according to the companies.

However, Asiana Airlines' respective once-a-day flights to Sendai Airport and Ibaraki Airport remained grounded as Japan funneled rescue and recovery work toward the most heavily hit city of Sendai. The local ministry said the country's flights to other countries along the Pacific Ocean, which the Japan-triggered tsunami swept through overnight, will proceed as scheduled.

"The ministry will try to prevent any disruption in air traffic through constant cooperation with Japan's airport authorities and proactively react to any emergency," it said.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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