67.9 F
Los Angeles
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Incheon Int’l Airport to get $767 million makeover

Must read

Incheon International Airport's Terminal 1 bustles with travelers. [YONHAP]
Incheon International Airport’s Terminal 1 bustles with travelers. [YONHAP]

Incheon International Airport will receive a major makeover as the operator of the airport will spend 1.02 trillion won ($766.62 million) revamping one of its terminals.

Incheon International Airport Corporation announced Wednesday that it plans to upgrade Terminal 1 which has been in operation for 23 years since the airport’s inauguration.

The renovation, which is to enhance the airport’s aging infrastructure, is scheduled to commence in April next year, with completion expected by June 2033, the airport corporation announced Wednesday.

The airport corporation will close specific sections during construction, minimizing disruptions to passengers.

Aging infrastructure
After 23 years of operation, Terminal 1 has witnessed approximately 80 percent of its mechanical, electrical, and communication systems exceeding their intended life span, according to the airport corporation. Some of these facilities were originally designed and constructed according to outdated standards, particularly in terms of earthquake resistance and fire safety, necessitating their replacement to ensure passenger safety.

Additionally, as passenger numbers have grown from 44 million to 54 million, certain critical facilities like machinery, electrical systems and communications have been stretched to their limits due to the initial capacity design dating back over two decades.

“The move aligns with international trends, where foreign airports typically embark on renovations approximately 25 years after their initial construction,” the airport corporation explained.

Boosting safety and security
Furthermore, Terminal 1 will undergo safety upgrades, including the expansion of smoke extraction equipment to aboveground floors to enhance fire safety. Seismic reinforcement measures will also be extended to certain structures that were not previously required to meet seismic design standards.

The airport will also upgrade its security screening.

Presently, only 30 percent of Terminal 1’s Explosive Detection System (EDS) is utilized for inspecting all checked baggage. However, the forthcoming improvements will enable EDS inspections for all checked baggage, aligning security measures with international norms, adopted by airports in the United States, the European Union and Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2.

Terminal 1 of Incheon International Airport is used by Korea’s second-largest carrier Asiana Airlines, foreign airlines, and also by domestic low-cost airlines like Jeju Air and T’way.

Marketing efforts for Chinese travelers
The Incheon International Airport Corporation also unveiled plans to target younger travelers — aged between 21 to 40 — from China, with the aim of increasing Chinese visitors’ interest in Korea.

According to the corporation, 62.5 percent of Chinese passengers using Incheon Airport fall into the 20-30 age group. These efforts also come in response to the relatively low passenger recovery rate for the Korea-China route, which stood at just 23 percent in the first half of this year compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019.

To entice these travelers, the corporation will launch various marketing strategies, including using K-pop and other Hallyu content, hosting social media events, and participating in local travel exhibitions.

“The Chinese passport ownership rate is lower at 8.5 percent compared to neighboring countries like Korea at 40 percent and Japan at 23.6 percent, having the potential for growth in overseas travel,” the airport corporation said. “We will raise the passenger recovery rate for the route to China to 90 percent within next year.”

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]