The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Incheon Airport marks decade of rapid growth

By 고영아

Published : March 28, 2011 - 19:17

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Incheon International Airport marks its 10th anniversary Tuesday after a span of rapid growth establishing it as a major Northeast Asian hub and the world’s best airport.

The country’s main gateway opened in 2001 and has grown by an average 6 percent per year in terms of passenger numbers, according to the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs.

Though it encountered diverse opposition regarding its location and safety prior to its construction, it is considered one of the country’s most successful capital projects.
Incheon International Airport Corp. CEO Lee Chae-wook (Yonhap News) Incheon International Airport Corp. CEO Lee Chae-wook (Yonhap News)

The facility became the eighth-busiest of its kind in the world as of last year, having attracted 33 million passengers and 5.2 million transfers. Freight-wise, it was the world’s second-busiest, having dealt with 2.7 million tons.

Domestically, the airport has added 18 trillion won ($15 billion) to the economy, dealt with 25 percent of the country’s total trade volume, and posted sales and earnings of 1.3 trillion won and 53 million won as of last year, respectively, according to the ministry.

Ministry officials attributed the airport’s notable success to its ongoing efforts to seek innovation.

“The fact that we built an airport on an island by reclaiming land from the sea, which is free from noise and thus can be operated for 24 hours a day, was a bold, future-oriented investment,” a ministry official said. “Its proximity to China has also functioned as a key success driver as well.”

Other efforts include expanding its international routes, improving the airport’s accessibility by establishing a railway and Incheon Bridge and offering prompt and efficient services to users, according to the ministry.

Incheon airport’s outstanding service has also been acknowledged, being selected as Best Airport Worldwide in Airport Service Quality in 2010 for the sixth consecutive year, beating rivals Changyi Airport of Singapore and Hong Kong International Airport.

The airport offers a prompt service, which means it only takes passengers 16 minutes and 12 minutes to leave and enter the country, respectively, according to Incheon International Airport Corp.

This is thanks to the efficient management the facility has been carrying out together with related government bodies and institutions including Korea Airports Corp, ministry officials said.

Yet experts say that the airport has to step up investment and marketing, rather than settling for the status quo, as it is expected to face fiercer competition with neighboring airports in the future.

The IIAC said it is to inject 4.4 trillion won by 2017 on the expansion of the facility and developing the surrounding region.

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