By Kim Rahn
Those using foreign carriers at Incheon International Airport are advised to come some 10 minutes earlier than before, as they will have to take their planes at a satellite concourse starting late June.
The airport has established a concourse with 30 gates, a runway and a cargo terminal as a part of its expansion plan at a cost of 3.9 trillion won ($4 billion).
Korea's two national flag carriers, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, will use gates at the eastern and western parts of the current terminal, which has 44 gates.
Foreign airlines have begun moving to the new concourse, about 900 meters away from the terminal and will finish the move by June 10.
The concourse is a facility only for departures and arrivals, so passengers on foreign carriers, although they take their flights at the concourse, will have to check-in, send their baggage and go through immigration at the current terminal. An automated train will link the terminal and the concourse.
After immigration procedures, passengers can take the underground train, named ``Starline,'' between Gates 27 and 28 at the terminal. About 260 people can take the train, which operates every 2.5 minutes.
The size of the concourse is about a third of the main terminal. It has duty free shops, restaurants, facilities for passengers' convenience such as shower rooms, as well as a Korean culture museum.
Three gates of the concourse can handle A380, the super-jumbo jet. For the double-decker plane, a bridge will connect the upper deck of the plane and the concourse, while two bridges will service the lower deck. Singapore Airlines is using the aircraft and more carriers will adopt it. Another two gates can also be used for A380 if additional bridges are attached.
Korean Air also plans to operate the super-jumbo starting 2010, and a gate at the main terminal will then be modified.
The official opening of the new facilities will be in the latter half of June with use of the new runway, but the exact date has yet to be decided.
With the new facilities, the airport will be able to handle 44 million passengers per year, up from the current 30 million. The number of flight operations will also increase from 240,000 to 410,000 per year, and the volume of cargo, from 2.7 million tons to 4.5 million tons.