How to revitalize the aviation industry
Unlike the elevating political tension in Northeast Asia, economic exchanges are expanding more than ever. In the last five years, international passengers traveling between Korea, China and Japan have grown by 6 percent annually, creating tens of billions of dollars in flight demand.
However, Korea’s basic industries are struggling between China and Japan. In the airline and airport industries, Korea is considered to have relative competitiveness over China and Japan, but there are concerns about being overtaken in the near future. China is developing midsize passenger airplanes and announced plans to construct 1,600 airports within 15 years as a part of the “one belt, one road” policy. Japan is reorganizing airport infrastructure and revising aviation policies to regain leadership in the Northeast aviation market.
What we need most to keep the lead is reinforcement of the aviation network and expansion of facilities. The government and airlines need to work together to expand the routes going through Incheon International Airport and pursue airport facility expansion projects in time in order to accommodate increasing passengers. The Korean government is promoting the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative as a multilateral talk process in the region to build trust through talks and cooperation and expand the scope of cooperation. In addition, we need to expand air routes to include newly built airports through aviation talks among nations, and boost exchanges in economy and culture to prepare a solid foundation for trust and mutual cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Second, overseas airport projects and global partnerships need to be strengthened and expanded. Incheon International Airport has won 22 contracts in 11 countries totaling $86.15 million. It is also pursuing a leading airport project with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands and Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. However, it is not enough. In partnership with Korean companies with world-class technologies, Incheon Airport should move to the airport construction projects abroad and consider acquiring foreign airports. Recently, Incheon Airport won a contract for the operation consulting of Istanbul’s new airport in partnership with Copenhagen Airport.
Third, an extensive airport town of tourism, culture and shopping needs to be developed. Yeongjong Island, where Incheon Airport is located, measures 116 square kilometers (45 square miles), bigger than Hong Kong Island (78 square kilometers) and Macau (30㎢square kilometers), with largely undeveloped areas. Incheon also has the geopolitical advantage as the center of Northeast Asia. Constructing tourism and leisure facilities, a resort complex, and aviation education and maintenance facilities can bring synergy to the area.
by Park Wan-su, CEO of the Incheon International Airport Corporation