[EDITORIALS] Better a Delay Than a Fiasco

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[EDITORIALS] Better a Delay Than a Fiasco

With only fifteen days left before the scheduled opening of the Incheon International Airport, the DLiA multinational aviation consulting consortium has submitted a report strongly recommending that the airport "change the date of the opening set for March 29." Having taken on the task of monitoring the airport at the government's request, the consortium has pinpointed failings in various areas, including baggage handling capacity, emergency systems, terminal management, airport security and facility maintenance and repair. The consortium warned, "Other unexpected problems could erupt and result in complete chaos as witnessed at Kuala Lumpur airport and Hong Kong."

Although the government and the airport administration proclaimed with confidence, "We are aware of the problems and with repeated drills and system stabilization, no problems are expected at the opening," this warning is not to be taken lightly. The airport should bear in mind that the warnings given by a specialist firm indicate the seriousness of the problems plaguing the airport, and the defects portend a fiasco not limited to confusion in cargo transportation and financial loss, but possibly many human casualties. The government also has in the past assured the public of the smooth opening of the airport. But as we approach the date, many unresolved problems, such as the expensive toll fees on the only one road leading to the airport, the lack of bus lines and insufficient lodging, convenience, and telecommunication facilities, are surfacing. So many critical defects in the management of the airport are breaking out that one cannot help but wonder what the airport authorities have been doing during the past eight years.

Instead of leaving management to the airport administration, the government should now actively step in, because a catastrophe would be a global embarrassment and would critically damage our international credibility. The prime minister should take the lead to set up an inter-ministerial contingency task force to examine the problems, expediently tackle those that call for inter-ministerial cooperation and hurry to solve problems so that the opening goes smoothly. If even these measures do not suffice, then a partial opening should be selected rather than a complete opening, and in the worst case, there should be no hesitation about a postponement. Unreasonably pushing the opening for fear of being blamed for a delay or because "probably nothing will happen" could have serious consequences.
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