SEOUL, Sept 26 South Korea's Incheon Airport has
begun a $4.6 billion expansion to increase its passenger
handling capacity 41 percent by 2017, to better compete in an
Asian race to become a regional hub.
Incheon joins rivals such as Singapore Changi Airport
who are expanding to capitalise on increased traffic
in Asia. Incheon is also looking to accommodate an influx of
people arriving for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South
Korea's Pyeongchang county.
Incheon, which ranks ninth in international passenger
traffic and second in cargo, on Thursday held a
groundbreaking ceremony for a second terminal capable of
accommodating 18 million passengers a year, bringing total
capacity to 62 million.
The expansion includes boosting annual cargo capacity to 5.8
million tonnes from 4.5 million.
The government-owned airport expects economic growth to push
up Asia-Pacific air traffic by an annual average of 6 percent in
the coming years, compared with a world average of 4 percent.
Nearby rival Hong Kong International Airport, which expects
passenger numbers to rise from 56.5 million people in 2012 to
102 million by 2030, is studying a third runway and expanded
Singapore Changi Airport, Southeast Asia's biggest
international airport by passenger traffic, is doubling its
annual capacity to around 130 million passengers by the
Incheon Airport opened in 2001 as the main airport of Asia's
fourth-biggest economy. It has seen annual passenger traffic
grow by over 6 percent on average, thanks in part to a rise in
Chinese and Japanese visitors attracted by Korea's increasingly
prevalent popular culture.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Christopher Cushing)