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Jeju Airport resumes operations after near 2-day shutdown

All News 15:56 January 25, 2016

SEJONG/JEJU, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- Jeju International Airport on South Korea's southernmost resort island resumed operations Monday after being shut down by heavy snow for some 45 hours, the government said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said an Eastar Jet B737 passenger jet with 149 people on board took off safely at 2:47 p.m. after ground service personnel cleared the runway and removed ice and snow from the aircraft.

About 13 minutes later, a Korean Air B747 with 328 people departed for Seoul's Gimpo International Airport.

The resumption comes after heavy snow forced one of South Korea's busiest airports to go dark early Saturday evening, which resulted in flight cancellations and thousands of stranded travelers.

Exact numbers have not been made public, but it is estimated some 86,900 people have been stuck, with 1,400 having been forced to stay at the airport terminal.

The local weather service lifted the heavy wind and snow warnings earlier in the day as the sold high-pressure front that engulfed most of the country started to weaken.

Airport authorities and the transport ministry said the roughly 30 planes stuck at the airport will be cleared of ice and snow and be allowed to take off.

Passengers who had booked flights leaving the resort island have been contacted in advance to get ready for departure, although there may be some congestion in processing. Upwards of 7,000 people may try to leave at once, authorities predicted.

The transport ministry said under normal conditions Jeju airport, with one main runway, can accommodate 34 takeoffs and landings per hour. The airport in the northern part of the island can process around 40,000 passengers daily.

It said to help people stranded on Jeju, airlines are expected to reroute 47 additional flights, in addition to regular scheduled flights. This can add 39,000 seats and speed up departures.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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