Incheon International Airport (IIAC) hopes this month to repeat the feat of introducing a high-tech aviation hub to the world – which it did in March 2001 – with the unveiling of its second-phase facilities.
Starting in 2002, enhancements took six years to put into place and represent US$4 billion in investment. This has produced a simple but elegant passenger terminal and a gigantic 4,000-metre runway, capable of accommodating jumbo aircraft such as the Airbus A380. According to IIAC president and CEO Jaehee Lee, the new runway would raise the number of flights from the current 240,000 to 410,000 annually, allowing the facility to outstrip its toughest regional competitors.
Other innovations include the “Starline” automated transport system running between the passenger terminal and boarding areas in the newly constructed concourse, and the NAVAIDS technology. All this means is that Incheon Airport is in possession of top-class hardware and software to handle 50 million passengers and five million metric tonnes of cargo a year.
With Korea as one of the world’s IT powerhouses, Incheon Airport has benefited tremendously, creating an environment that enables fast and convenient immigration processing. An abundance of cyber-terminals, using mobile technology, helps travellers book tickets, check in and receive boarding passes and do last-minute shopping. Lee describes it as an “airport in your hand”, wherein users can access the airport 24/7. Available too is an advanced self check-in system and “U-Immigration” system applying the latest biometric techniques.
Waiting for flights can be unpleasant business, and the IIAC folks have gone the extra mile to provide a stimulating environment for passengers. This is where the Airstar concept comes in, offering unique retail options and services to make everyone feel pampered and engaged. Amenities in both the passenger terminal and concourse such as deluxe lounges and bars, internet stations, rest areas and viewing rooms are conveniently located.
While the body is fed and the yen for shopping satisfied, the soul is also not neglected with cultural presentations and exhibitions planned on a regular basis, aiming to train the spotlight on Korean talent. Such activities, says Lee, will hopefully help the airport evolve into an exciting “cultureport”.
Margie T Logarta