Incheon Airport - Entrance
Incheon International Airport (IIA) (IATA: ICN, ICAO: RKSI) (Korean: 인천국제공항) is the largest airport in South Korea, the primary airport serving the Seoul national capital area, and one of the largest and busiest in the world. Since 2005, it has been consecutively rated as the best airport in the world by the Airports Council International and received the full 5-star ranking by Skytrax, a recognition shared only by Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.
Located 70 km (43 mi) west of Seoul, the capital and largest city of South Korea, Incheon International Airport is the main hub for Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Polar Air Cargo.
The airport opened for business in early 2001, replacing the older Gimpo International Airport, which now serves only domestic destinations plus shuttle flights to Tokyo (Haneda), Shanghai (Hongqiao) and Osaka (Kansai).
The airport serves as a hub for international civilian air transportation and cargo traffic in East Asia.
Incheon International Airport is also currently Asia's eighth busiest airport in terms of passengers, the world's fourth busiest airport in terms of cargo and freight, and the world's eleventh busiest airport in terms of international passengers in 2006.
The airport has a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, a casino, and indoor gardens and a Museum of Korean Culture.
Incheon International Airport is located west of Incheon, on Yeongjong-Yongyu Island on the West Coast. In the past, there were two separate islands of Yeongjong and Yongyu but the distance between them that were once covered by the sea was filled to form one island from two. Both of these islands were part of the city of Incheon.
It is connected to the mainland by Incheon International Airport Expressway (Expressway 130), a part of which is Yeongjong Bridge. The expressway also connects Gimpo Airport to provide connections between domestic flight service with international air traffic, an advantage that makes it far easier to travel from southern Korean regions to Incheon, and then to airports all over the globe. The airport is served by frequent bus service from all parts of South Korea as well as by traditional ferry service between Yeongjong pier and Incheon. Airport limousines operate around the clock from Seoul to Incheon, and several backup highway buses escort people from places within and outside Seoul.
The Incheon International Airport Railroad link to Gimpo International Airport (and Seoul Subway Line 5, Line 9) opened on 23 March 2007, with a further extension to Seoul Station due for completion in 2010.
The airport was awarded the "Best in Service Award in Class" at the 1st International Conference on Airport Quality and Service by the IATA and the ACI, and ranked second in "Best Airport Worldwide", behind Hong Kong International Airport, and ahead of Singapore Changi Airport. It was also ranked No. 1 in the world by the Airports Council International.
Seoul Incheon International Airport's terminal has 74 boarding gates altogether, with 44 in the main passenger building and 30 in Concourse A.
After the Seoul Olympics of 1988, international air traffic to Korea increased at a tremendous rate. Especially as time progressed into the 1990s, it became apparent that Gimpo International Airport could not keep up with the increase in air traffic. As such, in order to reduce the load on Gimpo International Airport, and establish a new airport which could become the centre of air traffic in the region, construction of the airport began in November 1992. The airport was constructed on reclaimed land between Yeongjong Island and Youngyu Island. It took eight years to construct the airport, and an additional six months to test operate. The airport was officially opened in March 2001.
When the airport was first opened, there were numerous problems, most of them having to do with the baggage handling systems. In fact, the problem was first discovered during the test phase, but was never worked out in time. As a result, for a month after the airport opened, the system had to be operated on a semi-automatic mode. Nevertheless, most of the problems were worked out within a month, and the airport continued to operate normally.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the airport’s security system was upgraded to state of the art systems, and medical inspection equipment was also upgraded in response to the various epidemics occurring in neighboring countries.
Due to the positive response towards the airport, its air traffic increased tremendously. By early 2002, it became apparent that the airport would be saturated by 2006. As a result, in February 2002, the construction of the second phase was initiated. Originally, the construction was supposed to have ended by December 2008. However, due to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the construction schedule was modified to allow the construction to end by July 2008.
On 15 November 2006, the Airbus A380 landed at the airport as part of the first leg of its certification trip. During the visit, the airport observed the operation of other air traffic especially during ground operations. The plane was docked into one of its boarding gates to ensure that the aircraft was fully compatible with the airport. The results were satisfactory, confirming that the airport would be fully Airbus A380 capable, from the runways to the taxiways, and up to every single boarding dock.
To further upgrade service, Incheon and major Korean logistics firm Hanjin Corporation (parent company of the Korean Flag Carrier, Korean Air) have signed a contract on 10 January 2008 to build a nine-story hospital near the airport. Once construction is complete in 2011, the Yeongjong Medical Centre is expected to serve nearby residents and 30,000 domestic and international tourists who visit Korea every year to receive medical services.
The airport was originally planned to be built in three phases, incrementally increasing airport capacity as the demand grew. This was changed, however, to four phases after the airport was opened.
In Phase 1, the airport had a capacity of 30 million passengers per year, and a cargo capacity of 1.7 million metric tonnes yearly. In this phase, a passenger terminal with a floor space of 496,000 square metres, two parallel runways, a control tower, an administrative building, a transportation centre (the Integrated Transportation Centre, designed by Terry Farrell & Partners), and integrated operations centre, three cargo terminals, international business centre, and a government office building were constructed.
Phase 2 construction began in 2002 and was originally expected to be completed in December 2008. However, in an attempt to have the airport ready for the 2008 Beijing Olympics which took place in August 2008, the schedule was modified and Phase 2 construction was completed on 20 June 2008. During this construction phase, a third parallel 4,000 meter-long runway and a 13 hectare cargo terminal area were added. A 16.5 hectare concourse connected to the main passenger building via two parallel 870m long underground passageways was added, with a "Shuttle train" Mitsubishi Crystal Mover APM shuttling passengers between the concourse and the main terminal.
With the completion, the airport has an annual capacity of 410,000 flights, 44,000,000 passengers, and nearly 4,500,000 metric tonnes of cargo. In what some travelers have seen as an example of discrimination against foreigners, all foreign airlines were shifted to the less convenient new concourse, with Korean and Asiana continuing to use the existing terminal. In addition, there were numerous equipment upgrades during the phase, including the newer and better ASDE-X with MRI (Multi Radar Tracking) function, and the ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) system with the RIMCAS (Runway Incursion Monitoring and Conflict Alert System) function. The installation of four additional sets of ASDE-X antennas is planned to reduce blind spots during heavy rainfall and in preparation for the new runway.
Plans to invest 4 trillion won by 2015 to expand Incheon International Airport. The South Korean government plans to add a second passenger terminal in the northern field of the airport and expand its existing cargo terminal and other infrastructure. The terminals will be connected with each other by the underground "Starline" train, which currently links the first terminal and the concourse. Upon completion, Incheon International Airport will be able to handle 62 million passengers and 5.8 million tonnes of cargo a year, up from the current capacity of 44 million passengers and 4.5 million tonnes. Construction will begin in 2011 with completion targeted for 2015. Plans for Incheon's expansion also include adding more aprons to park planes and extending a railway line to the city centre of Seoul about 70 kilometres away from the airport.
Estimated to be completed in 2020 this is the final and the ultimate construction stage. Upon completion, the airport will have 2 passenger terminals, 4 satellite concourses, 128 gates, and 4 parallel runways. It will be able to handle 100 million passengers and 7 million metric tonnes of cargo annually, with further possible expansions. The airport is projected to be transformed into one of the top ten busiest in the world by 2020.
Terminals, airlines and destinations
The main passenger terminal (measuring 496,000 square metres) is the largest airport terminal in area in South Korea, and the ninth largest passenger terminal in the world, after Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3, Beijing Capital International Airport's Terminal 3, Hong Kong International Airport's Terminal 1, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport's passenger terminal, Mexico City International Airport Terminal 1, Barcelona Airport Terminal 1, and Dubai International Airport Terminal 1 and Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3. The passenger terminal was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects. It is 1060 metres long, 149 meters wide, and 33 metres high. Its construction cost was 1.3816 trillion South Korean Won. The terminal has 44 boarding ports (all of which can accommodate the new Airbus 380), 50 customs inspection ports, 2 biological quarantine counters, 6 stationary and 14 portable passenger quarantine counters, 120 arrival passport inspection counters, 8 arrival security ports, 28 departure security ports, 252 check in counters, and 120 departure passport inspection counters.
The passenger concourse A was completed at the end of May 2008 and all foreign airlines use this terminal since 10 June 2008. It is connected to the Main Terminal by two parallel 870 metre long underground passageways equipped with IATs (Intra Airport Transit) It has 30 Gates and 5 Lounges (2 Asiana / Star Alliance, 2 Korean Air / SkyTeam, 1 Cathay Pacific / Oneworld).
Airlines and destinations
There are currently over 70 airlines serving ICN. The largest carrier in terms of passenger numbers is Korean Air, followed by Asiana Airlines. Although all domestic flights depart from the main terminal, international gates are separated from the domestic gates. Note: Though non-Korean (foreign) carriers started operating from concourse A on June 10, 2008, all check-in and immigration procedures still take place in main passenger terminal.
Incheon has more Chinese destinations than the amount that Hong Kong International Airport has and more Japanese destinations than the amount that Narita International Airport has.
Cargo Terminal Complex
The Cargo Terminal Complex comprises six cargo terminals, five separate warehouses, All E/F Class 36 parking stands, and administration offices. Each cargo terminal is designed to provide each carrier with unique services, and a cargo warehouse (approximately 3,500 square meters). They are separated into three areas, import, passing and export. The logical manner in which the terminals were designed allow for a highly efficient operation. The cargo terminals also comes with an advanced computer system that helps track each cargo in real time. Using the systems, managers can view individual package information, tracking information, storage information, etc in real time. The terminals also feature various other high tech technologies.
The Cargo Terminal Complex was designed to be able to process 1.7 million tons of cargo per year. However, due to the increased demands, the operators of Cargo A Terminal and Cargo B Terminal has opted to expand their facilities onto the land that is available nearby. As a result, the total processing ability of the complex is currently rated at 3.8 million tons per year. The C Terminal, was not able to expand however, due to the lack of direct airside access. Once Phase II expansion is complete, the airport will have a processing ability of around 4.9 million metric tons per year. This is because the expansion which was originally designed to allow an expansion to 4.5 million tons per year would be adding on top of the current processing ability, which includes the expansions by Korean Air Cargo and Asiana Cargo which was conducted separately on a piece of land that did not conflict with the airport expansion plans.
The Cargo Terminal Complex is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nonstop. In addition, the automation systems had been upgraded. As a result, it is typical for the airport to output an extra 2 million tons per year processing capability than the original design.
This Cargo Terminal is operated by Korean Air Cargo. It is the largest cargo terminal by both size and capacity. It has a special ability to be able to process special types of cargo such as those requiring refrigeration, or those carrying live animals. This facility has been expanded once in March 2 of 2005 to allow a total processing capability of 1.35 million tons per year. The terminal has an area of 60,000 square meters.
This Cargo Terminal is operated by Asiana Cargo. Although its capacity was to be expanded to 800,000 tons per year, the diminished demand for cargo transportation on Asiana originating from a pilot strike in 2005 has caused the plans to be modified. Currently, the terminals are capable of processing 750,000 tons per year. The terminal has an area of 40,000 square meters.
This Cargo Terminal is operated by the Incheon International Airport Foreign Carrier Cargo Terminal Company. Its users include FedEx, UPS, as well as other airlines. Due to its location, it could not expand its facilities as with the other terminals without conflicting with the existing plans for airport expansion. As a result, the IIAC is currently constructing a new terminal that would by operated by the IIAC Foreign Carrier Cargo Terminal Co. Once this new terminal is constructed, FedEx and UPS are expected to move into the new terminal while other cargo operators are expected to use the existing terminal.
The terminal is 420 meters long, 120 meters wide, and 19.65 meters tall. Its first floor (warehouse) has a total area of 54,203.32 square meters, and other floors occupy 12,708.88 square meters. Its current total processing capability is 600,000 metrics tons per year. 51 different cargo companies use this complex.
This Cargo Terminal is operated by the Joint Company named AACT. Atlas Air Cargo and Sharp has share. Its users include Polar Air Cargo, Qantas Freight, Finnair Cargo as well as other airlines.
DHL Incheon Gateway
DHL Express owns and operates this gateway facility for Korea, Japan and Far East Russia. This Cargo Terminal is four stories tall with state of the art facilities.
Operation facilities and infrastructures
Located at the center of the airport, the 22 story Control Tower is 100.4 meters tall and is illuminated 24 hours a day. On its highest floor is located a parabolic antenna that is used by the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) to detect all airplanes and obstacles within 5 km of the tower. The upper floors are used by ground and tower controllers while the lower floors are mostly for support operations. The control tower has a total area of 179 square meters making it the 3rd largest in the world as of 2001.
There are three parallel paved asphalt runways in operation, 15R/33L, 15L/33R and 16/34. Runway 15R/33L and 15L/33R are each 3,750 meters long, 60 meters wide, and 1.05 meters thick. Runway 16/34 is 4000 meters long. Runway 15R/33L is used mostly for departures while runway 15L/33R is used mostly for arrivals. This is evident from the amount of rubber present on each runway; runway 15L/33R has more rubber on it due to the higher number of landings. A third parallel 16L/34R runway 4,000 meters long began operation in June 2008. Landing and takeoffs of most passenger flights are done on the new runway and the existing runway 15R/33L while runway 15L/33R is mostly used for cargo flights for its proximity with the cargo terminals. Although the runways are labelled 33 and 34, all three runways have the same heading. Once Phase 4 construction is complete, the airport will have 4 parallel runways, two of them 3,750 meters long and the other two 4,000 meters long. All runways are equipped with ILS CAT IIIb at both sides allowing for operation in visibility conditions as low as 50 meters. As of the date of upgrade, Incheon International Airport was the only airport in Asia to have full ILS CAT IIIb capability. The runway lightings at Incheon International Airport (as well as the taxi lights) are tied into special computers at the control tower. Air Traffic Controllers can provide progressive taxiing to an aircraft by setting the computer to manipulate the taxi and runway lights so that it will lead them to their designated gate or parking stand.
Awards, certifications, and ratings
Incheon International airport has won numerous awards since its opening, including"
Accidents and incidents
No serious or fatal accidents or incidents have been recorded to date at the airport.
Accidents and incidents involving the airport
The Incheon International Airport Railroad (A'REX), was brought into service on 23 March 2007. The station is located in the Transportation Center adjacent to the main terminal building. The A'REX trains can speed up to 120 km/h, almost two times faster than a normal subway train and cutting the travel time to Gimpo Airport to approximately 30 minutes. As of 2007, only the first phase of the construction was opened to the public (Incheon International Airport - Gimpo Airport). The remaining phase of the construction is expected to be completed by 2010 (Gimpo Airport - Seoul Station).
Commuter train stations
Express train stations
A maglev link is under construction.
The airport provides a short term parking lot for 4000 cars and a long term parking lot for 6000 cars. Shuttle services connect the long term parking lot to the passenger terminal and the cargo terminal. Car rental is located near the long term parking lot. Link to the main land is provided by the toll Yeongjong Bridge and an expressway. A second expressway on the Incheon Bridge connects the island with central Incheon.
Taxis have two distinct colors: white (silver) and black. "Normal taxis" (일반 택시) are colored in white with either a blue or green cap on the top of the car. "Deluxe taxis" (모범 택시; mobeom taeksi) are black in color with gold accent/stripes and are more expensive than regular taxis.
A ferry service connects Yeongjong-do to the mainland. However, the dock is located at considerable distance from the airport and an alternative means of transport must be sought upon arriving at the island to be able to get to the airport.
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