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Korea to continue push to sell stake in Incheon Airport

South Korea will keep pushing to sell a stake in the state-run Incheon International Airport to private investors in a bid to enhance its efficiency and global competitiveness, the nation’s top economic policymaker said Monday.

The Lee Myung-bak administration announced a plan in 2008 to sell up to a 49 percent stake in Incheon airport in line with its drive to improve the overall business competitiveness of state-run enterprises. A bill is pending to allow for the stake sale.

The process, however, has been in limbo in the face of opposition from lawmakers and civic groups, which claim that the sale would result in hiking air service charges, with some even arguing that the stake sale would end up giving special favors just to foreign investors.

“(We will) do our best to get it passed,” Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan told lawmakers when asked if he thinks that the bill would get through the National Assembly.

Bahk added that the government will also draw up measures to deal with any public concerns and continue to have consultations with those who object to the plan.

His remarks come as some raise doubts about the true motive behind the plan, saying that there is no reason to sell the airport, which is already regarded as the world’s best in terms of its service quality and profitability.

Incheon airport, located west of Seoul, has been consecutively rated the best airport in the world by the Airports Council International. It opened for business in February 2002 with work on the second phase completed in June 2008.

The airport currently has three runways and handles more than 44 million passengers and 4.5 million tons of cargo every year, making it one of the busiest airports in the world. 

(Yonhap News)
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