The departing terminal of Incheon Airport is nearly deserted Tuesday amid the coronavirus outbreak, which led the Korean and Japanese governments to reinforce entry restrictions on people traveling between the two countries. (Yonhap)
The number of passengers using Incheon International Airport in the first week of March dropped by 80 percent on-year, the lowest since 2003, according to the airport operator Tuesday.
Incheon International Airport Corp. said that from March 1-8 the number of passengers who transited South Korea’s gateway airport came at 298,307, less than one-fifth of 1,536,594 last year.
During the first week of March, an average number of passengers using Incheon airport was around 37,000.
On Saturday, the number of passengers was 29,069 -- the first time it has fallen below the 30,000-mark since 2003. The previous record low was 26,773 airport passengers on May 20, 2003, when international travel was hit by the severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003.
The number of flights landing or departing via Incheon airport also plummeted to 4,201 flights, about 53 percent fall compared to 8,903 flights operated during the first week of March last year.
The IIAC said the number of passengers who traveled from China to Incheon airport from March 1-8 also dropped by 87 percent on-year.
The Japanese routes saw 46,861 passengers, about 85 percent fall on-year. The figure is expected to further decline as Korea and Japan have enforced tougher travel restrictions from this week, the IIAC said.
Meanwhile, IIAC said it has been conducting a three-step preboarding quarantine measure, which obliges a departing passenger to go through temperature checks using thermal imaging cameras and hand-held noncontact infrared thermometers at three points before boarding: terminal, departure floor and boarding gate.
The airport operator said anyone with a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius may be not allowed to fly based on the destination country’s entry restrictions over COVID-19 concerns.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of countries that have adopted entry restrictions on Korean nationals or those who visited here grew to 109.
Five more countries -- Grenada, Barbados, Gabon, Norway, Rwanda -- have been newly added to the list this week.
A total of 45 countries -- including Israel, Japan and Hong Kong -- currently ban entry of Koreans.
With more countries placing restrictions on Korean nationals, Cheong Wa Dae said Tuesday that President Moon Jae-in has ordered measures to exceptionally allow businessmen to enter other countries if they carry certified documents regarding their health status.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org