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Korea Airports Corp. looks to overseas markets

Gimpo International Airport may have lost its hub status to state-backed Incheon International Airport, but Korea Airports Corp., the operator of 14 regional airports including Gimpo, still aims to exhibit its prowess in airport management and equipment exports.

KAC vice president Kim Byeong-no said the company is set to compete with global equipment players such as Thales and Selex, while tapping build-operate-transfer or operation and maintenance projects.

Kim Byeong-no
Kim Byeong-no

“KAC has more than 30 years experience in operating cost-efficient and advanced airports. No one can top that here,” Kim told The Korea Herald.

“As we have succeeded in developing key airport equipment and systems domestically with small and medium-size partners, we are ready to further grow overseas.”

Kim, who has been with KAC for 30 years and now heads the R&D division, added that such development has helped Korea’s airport industry become less reliant on foreign products.

The time is ripe for KAC to show that Korean-made products such as distance measuring equipment and instrument landing systems have as much capability as others in this sector.

The company aims to achieve overseas sales of 200 billion won ($180 million) by 2020, or grab a three percent share of the global equipment market. It has exported goods worth some 30 billion won to 14 countries over the last four years, the executive noted, highlighting its latest export of ILS to Turkey, which will be KAC’s foothold to a foray into the Middle East.

Another area it wants to pursue overseas is build-operate-transfer deals or operation and maintenance contracts, including equity investments in both greenfield and brownfield airports in Southeast Asia where demand for airport infrastructure is growing on the back of economic growth.

KAC is bidding for O&M of Vietnam’s Van Don International Airport with its feasibility study done by Samjong KPMG, as well as eyeing opportunities in the Philippines. O&M contracts normally run for 30 years, and Kim said it is interested in potential projects whose size is equivalent to KAC’s Daegu and Gwangju airports.

“KAC has zero debt, which clearly shows our strength in operating and managing airports efficiently,” Kim said, pointing to Gimpo, Gimhae and Jeju airports, which have been operating in the black for years.

“We’re going to take our management and development model, including meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions business, to overseas for BOT and O&M.”

MICE integrated with airport operations is considered KAC’s new growth engine, Kim added.

KAC aims to achieve sales of some 150 billion won in the overseas BOT-O&M business by 2020.

It is financially capable of pursuing its global growth, also backed by the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Korea International Cooperation Agency and Korea’s global infrastructure fund.

The executive added that KAC was looking to operate an air force base in Portugal where pilots will be trained with Korea’s T-50 supersonic aircraft.

By Park Hyong-ki (


<관련 한글 기사>

공항공사 포르투갈 공군기지 운영사업자 선정

한국공항공사는 포르투갈 공군기지 운영사업을 위해 국방부와 추진 중이라고 밝혔다.

포르투갈과의 투자협의가 체결 되는대로 주 사업자로 선정된 공항공사가 공군기지를 약 30년간 운영을 하게 될 것이라고 했다.

이르면 2015년부터 운영을 하게 될 것이라고 공항공사 김병노 R&D사업센터장이 말했다.

이것을 위해 공항공사는 공군기지 운영을 위해 약 3500억 투자를 계획하고 있으며 비행훈련시스템, 정비 분야를 담당할 수 있는 업체를 선정해서 컨소시엄을 구성할 것이라고 했다.

국방부는 포르투갈 공군기지에서 한국의 고성능 T-50으로 양국의 조종사를 양성할 계획을 갖고 있다.

공항공사는 또 2020년까지 항행안전장비 세계시장 점유율 3프로 차지하기 위해 다국적기업 탈레스, 셀렉스 커뮤니케이션스와 경쟁을 할 것이라고 했다.

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