Expanded Jeju Airport to handle more tourists
Jeju International Airport has seen a surging number of Chinese and other foreign tourists visiting the country’s southern resort island. However, it was harder to secure seats on airplanes to and from Jeju Island as carriers could not increase the number of flights due to Jeju airport’s limited capacity.
But following the completion of a six-year expansion project, the airport will now be able to accommodate more tourists.
Korea Airports Corp. (KAC), the operator of 14 domestic airports, said Friday that it has completed an expansion scheme that began in May, 2007, to extend landing strips and build more passenger gates, duty free shops and other amenities.
The KAC has spent a total of 343.2 billion won over the past six years to turn Jeju airport into a more internationally-recognized aviation hub.
``As of July 6, all extension projects came to an end,’’ KAC CEO Sung Si-chul said. ``The upgraded Jeju airport will provide a more convenient and pleasant travel experience for tourists visiting one of the world’s most beautiful islands.’’
The KAC began expanding Jeju airport in anticipation of the soaring number of Korean and foreign tourists. Despite the global financial crisis in late 2008, the number of air travelers arriving at and departing from Jeju airport has increased by an average of 10 percent every year.
A total of 17.2 million passengers used Jeju airport in 2011, up from 15.7 million in 2010 and 13.6 million in 2009.
``Through our expansion work, the airport can now handle up to 25.5 million users annually, up from the previous 13.1 million. Thanks to extended airstrips and more passenger gates, the airport can deal with a total of 172,000 landings and takeoffs per year,’’ Sung said.
The CEO also said the KAC has built more duty free shops, bathrooms, restaurants and other amenities for travelers at Jeju airport. ``It has become a truly leisure-oriented airport on par with Jeju’s reputation as Northeast Asia’s top resort island,’’ he stressed.
Early this week, the KAC won a 55 billion won contract, along with four other local companies, to reconstruct airports in Benghazi and Misurata, Libya, which were severely damaged by last year’s civil war.
The KAC was established in 1980 to promote the efficient construction, management, and operation of airports and effective air transportation.
It has exported a wide range of aviation safety devices to Turkey and 12 other countries, as well as provided consulting services on airport operation to Colombia and five other nations.