Ôsaka Kokusai Kûkô
(often called "Itami Airport," code ITM), is the second largest airport in Osaka
, and the country's fourth largest airport overall. It was opened in 1939
, and straddles the cities of Itami
, Hyogo Prefecture
, and Toyonaka
, Osaka Prefecture
After World War II, Itami was a base for the United States Air Force and United States Navy, housing squadrons of A-26 Invaders, VP-28's, and other postwar aircraft. It was a major stopping-off point for men and guns travelling toward the Korean War. Later, Sayonara was filmed there.
From its resumption of civil operations in 1960 to the opening of Kansai International Airport (KIX) in 1994, Itami carried all of the Kansai region's air traffic. Because it was located in a highly urbanized area, it suffered from massive noise restrictions and some of the wildest approaches in the world, a la Kai Tak Airport and Reagan National Airport. Until the opening of the Shinkansen, it bore the brunt of business traffic between Osaka and Tokyo.
Itami today is a domestic airport served by Japan's three majors (All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and Japan Air System). All of Itami's international traffic, and about half of its domestic traffic, has migrated to KIX, which is free of noise restrictions and has better terminal facilities. Itami is still used by the domestic majors because of its proximity to the city center and its lower landing fees: all-coach 747's fly in and out of the airport from sunrise to sunset.
Itami's only rail connection is the Osaka Monorail, which connects to Hankyu at Hotarugaike and the Midosuji Line at Senri-Chuo. There is also shuttle bus service between the airport and several points within the city: Umeda is 30 minutes away, Kyoto 55 minutes, and KIX 80 minutes.