Gov’t to expand existing Gimhae Int’l Airport instead of building new facility

After months of weighing up the pros and cons,…
the Korean government have decided against building a new airport in the south of the
country. It will instead expand and upgrade Gimhae
International Airport. Kim Jung-soo has more. After months of surveying possible sites in
the southeastern region of the country, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport,
announced on Tuesday that it has decided to further develop the existing Gimhae International
Airport in the port city of Busan rather than build a completely new facility. Before the announcement made today, the ministry,
in cooperation with French airport architecture and engineering company ADPi conducted a year-long
study on two cities, Gadeokdo Island near the southern port city of Busan, and the inland
town of Miryang in South Gyeongsang Province. “No surprise, there is a new site in Gadeok,
there’s a new site in Miryang, but we also considered Gimhae airport extension.” The ministry said that the revamped Gimhae
International Airport will be equipped with additional runways and terminals, as well
as more roads for improved accessibility. Seoul’s transport minister Kang Ho-in said
“The expansion was decided after a thorough and democratic process, and is the best option
when taking all factors into account, which include safety, accessibility and environmental
soundness.” Gimhae International Airport is currently
located in the western tip of Busan, recording a transit of more than 12 million passengers
in 2015. The airport has recently been overwhelmed
with a growing number of international passengers. Response to the announcement, however, has
been varied. The mayor of Busan voiced his strong disappointment,
saying that expanding the Gimhae International Airport is not a solution to its lingering
problems. “I cannot comprehend this decision. No amount
of expansion can fix Gimhae International Airport’s safety and traffic problems. I will
do my best so that the city of Busan will have a proper second airport in the near future.” The decision to expand Gimhae comes after
months of debate between Korea’s main political camps, each advocating for a new airport to
be built in their home turfs. The project will be funded entirely by the
central government, and it will complete supplementary studies by the end of this year.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.

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