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Gimpo Airport to open first business jet terminal in April

Korea will capitalize on the fast-growing business aviation market with the opening of the nation’s first terminal for business jets at the Gimpo International Airport in April next year.
An artist’s rendering of the Business Aviation Center at Gimpo International Airport, which will open in April. Gimpo Airport
An artist’s rendering of the Business Aviation Center at Gimpo International Airport, which will open in April. Gimpo Airport

“The Gimpo Business Aviation Center will play a role as a small airport for business jet passengers and aircrafts,’’ Chung Duck-kyo from the Gimpo Airport said.

The Airport invested about 45 billion won ($38.9 million) in total to build the nation’s first facility for business aviation services on land of 26,677 square meters.

The center will offer fast-track airport services to business jet passengers, as it will feature such facilities as immigration, quarantine and customs. The operator of the BAC added their main customers would be high-profile government officials, CEOs and entertainers.

For aircrafts, it also plans to offer facilities for such services as fueling, parking and maintenance.

Without the facility, Gimpo International Airport has dealt with private jets alongside other passenger or freight aircrafts, and so time-conscious private jet flyers had complained of the inconveniences in comparison to other airports offering separate services to them.

”Korea has been a latecomer in the market due to the small domestic market, but overseas demand has been on the rise at a fast pace,” Chung said. The unfavorable sentiment of the Korean public against extravagant items like private jets also delayed the creation of the market, industry watchers said.

In contrast with Korea, despite the global economic downturn in 2008, other developed or developing countries invested in the business aviation market, betting on the increase of superrich individuals and their mobility amid the acceleration of globalization.

Neighboring China, for instance, entered the market in 2008, the year it hosted the Beijing Summer Olympics, by opening the first facility for business jets in Beijing. As of 2015, China has 10 facilities nationwide for business aviation.

About 300 business jets are registered in China for now, but there are only eight business jets, run by conglomerates like Samsung, LG and Korean Air, in Korea.

The opening of the Gimpo BAC will lay the foundation for the creation of domestic demand for business aviation services by bringing in market players like business jet rental companies. Market sources have said a local company bought a couple of aircrafts from Gulfstream, the world’s largest business jet maker, to start a rental business from next year, which will lower the price for the aircraft use.

Gimpo International Airport also expects to secure an additional income source from the BAC operations, while creating new jobs for young people. “The company hopes to reap 4 billion won in 2020 by providing such services as parking and hangar services for aircrafts,” Chung said.

By Seo Jee-yeon (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)
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