"Incheon International Airport is now poised to emerge as a front-runner in the hub airport race in the Northeast Asian region,’ said Deputy Minister Koo Bon-hwan of the Civil Aviation Office at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT).
The following are excerpts of an interview between NewsWorld and Deputy Minister Koo in which he expounded the airport’s follow-up expansion and final projects.
Question: Would you please tell our readers about the significance and benefits of the opening of Incheon International Airport’s second passenger terminal?
Answer: The opening of the 2nd passenger terminal raises the international airport’s annual capacity of handling passengers from the current 54 million to 72 million, setting itself up to be a global aviation hub. The airport’s hardware infrastructure is being upgraded to support the airport’s stable operation and differentiation services, thus laying the groundwork to be a leader in the global aviation industry.
The airport, reborn as one of the most convenient and safest airports in the world, armed with Korea’s world-class advanced IT technology and service knowhow, is now poised to emerge as a front-runner to be a hub in the Northeast Asian region.
The new terminal is expected to help Incheon establish itself as an airport that is truly beloved by everyone “a smart airport” with state-of-the-art technologies offering more convenient services, “a green airport” teeming with features, and “an art airport” full of culture.
Incheon International Airport, already handling more than 62 million passengers annually as of 2017, now has two passenger terminals, putting it on par with other renowned global airports.
An indoor garden and other natural features at the duty-free shop area at Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2.
An overall view of the duty-free shop area at Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2.
Crew members use an advanced round clearance system to inspect passengers.
Q: Would you introduce the first through third phase of constructing Incheon International Airport?
A: The project of constructing the international airport was designed to meet rising flight demand in the Seoul metropolitan area in the 2000s and aimed from the beginning to be a Northeast Asian hub airport.
Under Phase 1 of the project, implemented between 1992 and 2001, two runways and a first passenger terminal were built. Under the 2nd phase of the project, carried out between 2002 and 2008, a concourse and a 3d runway were constructed. The first and second phase cost 5,632 billion won and 2,968 billion won, respectively, for a combined 8,601 billion won.
The third phase, designed not only to give Incheon an upper hand in the hub airport race among airports in neighboring countries, also braced for rising demand, cost 4.9 trillion won for nine years until 2017.
The project involved the construction of Incheon International Airport’s 2nd Passenger Terminal and transportation system connecting the two terminals.
A government notice on the third phase project was put out in June 2009, and a basic design was completed in May 2010, and the final design was selected from an international bid in July 2011. The 2nd passenger terminal project broke ground in September 2013, and a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the framework of the terminal took place in April 2016.
The new terminal was opened to the public on Jan. 18, 2018.
Q: Would you explain the passenger and cargo capacity of Incheon International Airport after the opening of its second passenger terminal?
A: The opening of the 2nd passenger terminal increases the international airport’s annual capacity of handling passengers from the current 54 million to 72 million, making it fifth in the world in terms of international flight capacity, allowing it to secure competitiveness of a global hub port.
With the opening of the 2nd passenger terminal, Incheon International Airport is now capable of handling up to 5 million tons, up from the existing 4.5 million tons in terms of total cargo combination of air cargo and luggage. Given the recent cargo transportation trend shifting from dedicated cargo aircraft to transporting it in the belly of passenger planes, a rise in passenger aircraft will likely further raise the real cargo handling capacity of Incheon International Airport.
Q: Would you give passengers some tips for using Terminal 2?
A: Incheon International Airport is now the first Korean airport to have two terminals. Terminal 2 covers flights from Korea Air, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Air France, so passengers are required to confirm the terminal of their flight prior to departure.
The existing Terminal 1 handles flights from Asiana Airline and all Korean LCCs as well as all foreign airliners, excpt Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Air France which are alloted to Terminal 2. Located at the center of the departure lounge is a departure check-in automation area in which quick departure clearance is done through automation and one-stop services are expected to be offered with the opening of government agencies, including the Justice Ministry, customs, and quarantine offices.
Ordinary bus, limousine bus, railway and shuttle bus services all offer convenience for passengers. Buses operating to the Terminal 1 are allowed to extend their coverage to Terminal 2. Starting Jan. 15, bus companies are allowed to operate their buses on 2,658 occasions daily, 101 more occasions than previously.
Most buses, except KAL limousines for Korean Air drop, stop at Terminal 1 before heading to Terminal 2.
Starting Jan. 13, airport and KTX trains going to Terminal 1 are allowed to extend their coverage to Terminal 2. It takes about seven minutes for passengers to travel from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2, which covers a distance of about 6 km. Shuttle buses connecting the two terminals are operated free at an interval of five minutes, and it is a drive of 15 to 18 minutes.
The 2nd Traffic Center has been installed at Terminal 2 to improve passengers’ access and convenience. The traffic center offers not only parking, but all transportation services, including bus, railway and subway, in one place. The center, a 60 meter walk from the arrival lounge of Terminal 2, improves passengers's access and convenience to help them take limousine buses and trains at a fast and convenient fashion.
They can purchase tickets inside kiosks and look into a large screen to find real-time information on the operation of buses like ordinary transportation services.
Q: Would you explain departure, arrival and luggage facilities of Terminal 2?
A: Terminal 2 has 62 self check-in machines and 52 automatic immigration clearance systems, much more than the Terminal 1. Self-service systems reduce the boarding processing time for flights leaving from Terminal 2 by about 30 minutes .
Security clearance, burdensome to passengers, is done in a more convenient and precise way thanks to advanced systems.
All checked luggage is screened by Explosive Detection System (EDS) machines, and the luggage handling process is done 1.5 times faster than the normal.
A children’s amusement facility.
A view of an observation experience zone. (Photos: Incheon International Airport Corp.)
Q: Would you explain the Phase 4 Project for Incheon International Airport?
A: As flight demand in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to surge, influenced by the growth of LCCs and the liberalization of aviation markets, Phase 4 will get under way on the heels of the completion of Phase 3. It will help the airport lead the future aviation market. Demand is expected to rise 10.6 percent annually in the recent seven years.
Phase 4 calls for the expansion of Terminal 2 to raise its annual capacity from 18 million passengers to 46 million passengers and add a fourth runway.
The project launched in 2017, will be continued until 2023 at a cost of 4.2 trillion won. The dedication will be adjusted flexibly according to flight demand.
When the latest project is completed, Incheon International Airport will see its annual passenger handling capacity surge to 100 million passengers, putting it in front of rival airports, including Beijing Daxing International Airport and Changi Airport, thus laying a foundation to become a “global mega hub.”
Q: Would you touch on the master plan, including the mid- and long-term roadmap for the airport?
A: The airport is being constructed in phases to brace for rapid demand increases and environmental changes. Phase 4 and the final phase one are contained in the airport’s master plan. The final stage calls for the construction of a third passenger terminal and adding a fifth runway so that it may can accommodate up to 130 million passengers annually. But the long-term project will be implemented depending on of environmental and demand changes.
President Chung Il-young of Incheon International Airport Corp. poses with the passengers and crew of the Korean Air flight which arrived via Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2 for the first time upon the opening of the new terminal at a ceremony.
A view of the mooring at Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2.
A view of an entry emigration inspection area at Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2. (Photos: MOLIT)
NewsWorld President & Publisher Elizabeth Jung-sook Oh stands beside a signboard that notifies that Terminal 2 covers flights from Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Air France. (Photo:NewsWorld)