IIAC takes the helm in Kuwait’s new Terminal 4

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IIAC takes the helm in Kuwait’s new Terminal 4

When Kuwaiti leader Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah attended the opening ceremony of Kuwait International Airport’s fourth terminal on July 4 there was one man he was keen to talk to. Skipping Kuwait’s transport minister, the head of the private aviation authority and the president of the airport, Sheikh Sabah headed straight for Chung Il-young, the president of Incheon International Airport.

Shaking Chung’s hand firmly, Sheikh Sabah smiled, saying, “I want you to teach me every trick in the operation of Incheon Airport so Kuwait Airport can become the central airport of the Middle East.”

Kuwait Airport, which is entirely owned by the government, saw 12 million visitors last year. The new fourth terminal, which cost $174.5 million, is capable of handling an additional 4.5 million passengers a year.

The new terminal will be operated by Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC). The corporation will be in charge of all operations including aviation security, passenger services, management of commercial facilities and the operation and maintenance of aviation facilities for the next five years beginning in August, when Kuwait Airport Terminal 4 is scheduled to open for business.

The 140 billion won ($124 million) project is one of the IIAC’s largest ever. “The consignment operation of Kuwait Airport Terminal 4 is a meaningful project that introduces the operational skills of Incheon Airport to the world for the first time,” Chung said.

“Thanks to experts from IIAC, preparations for the opening of the terminal are proceeding smoothly,” said Saud Al-Mahrus, the technology director of Kuwait’s civil aviation agency. “In just two short months, we have been able to see exactly why Incheon International Airport is the best in the world.”

The IIAC’s selection as operator over competition from major French and German companies reflects its competitiveness in the industry. Incheon International Airport, the 12-year winner of the Airport Service Quality award sponsored by the Airports Council International, is considered one of the best in the world in terms of departure times, baggage handling speed, aviation security and airport facilities among the 40 million annual airport users.

The IIAC is also currently consulting on the operation of Istanbul New Airport in Turkey for 7.4 billion won. The new airport will be the biggest in the world when construction is completed and will be able to handle 90 million passengers annually, exceeding Incheon International Airport’s annual accommodation capacity of 72 million people a year. When the final expansion is completed in 2035, the airport will be able to accommodate up to 150 million people.

“The operational skills of Incheon International Airport are being applied even for the biggest airport in the world,” said Chung. “We are discussing exporting operational skills for airports in Saudi Arabia, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries as well.” However, there are still things that need to be supplemented.

“Incheon International Airport is one of the few products we, as a country, can present on the international stage,” said Prof. Lee Ki-sang of Sejong University. “But security needs to be strengthened to prevent any avoidable breaches, and it cannot fall behind other airports around the globe that have already begun developing next-generation airport services.”

Airports in Germany and the United States are already developing next-generation airport services that combine information communication technology, robots, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data and biometric technologies. For example, passengers who enter a terminal with a boarding pass can be sent information about where to send their luggage, how to use a commercial facility and how to get to their gate directly to their smartphones.

Incheon International Airport will need to start implementing solutions using these technologies in order to remain competitive.

BY HAM JONG-SUN [ebusiness@joongang.co.kr]
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