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$1.8b set aside to expand airports

Five-year plan seeks to meet increased demand for international flights

The government is to invest 2.1 trillion won ($1.8 billion) to upgrade airport facilities over the next five years, the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs said Tuesday.

The plan includes further expanding Incheon International Airport to help cope with rising flight demand and consolidate its status as a Northeast Asian hub.

Around 1.79 trillion won of the total budget will be allocated to the project focusing on expanding its international and cargo terminals and parking lots.

“Whereas the demand for domestic flights is expected to stay stagnant or even decrease due to bullet train KTX networks and highways, that for international and Jeju Island routes is projected to gradually increase in the future,” ministry officials said.

Regarding building a new international airport in the southeastern part of the country, the ministry said it will decide on the location in March after a series of reviews on candidate venues including Milyang and Gadeokdo (Busan).

Municipalities in Gyeongsang provinces have been fiercely competing to bring the airport to their community as it is expected to largely boost the regional economy.

For Gimpo Airport, the government plans to renovate the outdated facilities at both domestic and international terminals. It will also seek to deal with short-distance international flight demands by improving the operating circumstances for private jets for business purposes.

The government will also consider renovating Jeju International Airport after reviewing the flight demands for the airport by 2014. It could either be renovated or newly enlarged according to the result, ministry officials said.

A feasibility assessment on whether facilities including runways at Cheongju International Airport should be renovated will also be carried out during the period, according to the ministry.

Investments other than those on safety facilities will be scarce for other airports which are expected to draw in fewer travelers, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the ministry added that it is seeking to build smaller airports in Ulleung and Heoksan islands to increase accessibility.

It will also establish landing fields for light aircrafts in cities including Goheung and Seosan to foster the local aviation leisure industry, ministry officials said.

By Koh Young-aah (youngaah@heraldcorp.com)
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