Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (IATA: TPE, ICAO: RCTP) (simplified Chinese: 台湾桃园国际机场; traditional Chinese: 臺灣桃園國際機場 or 台灣桃園國際機場; pinyin: Táiwān Táoyuán Guójì Jīchǎng) is an international airport located in Dayuan Township, Taoyuan County, Taiwan. It is one of three Taiwanese airports with regular international flights, and is by far the busiest international air entry point amongst them. It is the main international hub for China Airlines and EVA Air. Opened in 1979, the airport was known as Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (simplified Chinese: 中正国际机场; traditional Chinese: 中正國際機場; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōngzhèng Gúojì Jīchǎng; Tongyong Pinyin: Jhongjhèng Gúojì Jichǎng) until the name was changed in 2006 to its current name.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is one of two airports that serves Taipei and the rest of northern Taiwan. The other is Taipei Songshan Airport, located within Taipei City limits, which served Taipei as its international airport until 1979. Now, it serves chartered flights, most of which are to and from mainland China (see Cross-strait charter), domestic flights, and some international flights.
Taiwan Taoyuan handled a total of 21,616,729 passengers in 2009. It is the fifteenth-busiest air freight hub in the world and thirteenth-busiest airport by international passenger traffic.
Origin of the name
The airport, originally planned as Taoyuan International Airport, bore the name of late President Chiang Kai-shek until 2006. In Chinese, its former name was literally "Chung-Cheng (Zhongzheng) International Airport", where Chung-Cheng is the legal given name which Chiang Kai-shek had used since the 1910s. In Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek is associated with the Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang and its many years of one-party authoritarian rule. Local officials in Taoyuan County and members of the Pan-Green Coalition often referred to the hub by the name originally associated with it: "Taoyuan International Airport". News organizations and local residents sometimes combined the two commonly used names as "Taoyuan Chung-Cheng Airport."
The Executive Yuan of then-President Chen Shui-bian's administration officially approved the name Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for the hub on September 6, 2006. The opposition Kuomintang, which together with its political allies held a one-vote majority in the Legislative Yuan, decried the change and proposed "Taiwan Taoyuan Chiang Kai-shek International Airport" instead. The disagreement, like those affecting the names of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and other Taiwan landmarks, stands as another manifestation of the trend known as Taiwan localization among pan-Green officials and desinicization by Pan-Blue Coalition.
The media in mainland China has always referred to the airport as "Taoyuan International Airport" so as to avoid mentioning Chiang Kai-shek.
In the 1970s, the original airport in Taipei City — Taipei Songshan Airport — had become overcrowded and could not be expanded due to space limitations. Thus, a new airport was planned to alleviate congestion.
The new airport opened (with Terminal 1) on February 26, 1979, as part of the Ten Major Construction Projects pursued by the government in the 1970s. The airport was originally planned under the name Taoyuan International Airport but was later changed to Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in memory of former President Chiang Kai-shek.
The airport is the main hub of China Airlines, the ROC's flag carrier, as well as EVA Air, a private airline established in the early 1990s. Overcrowding of the airport in recent years prompted the construction of Terminal 2, which was opened on July 29, 2000, with half of its gates operational; EVA Air was the first airline to move into Terminal 2. The remaining gates opened on January 21, 2005 for China Airlines. There are plans for the construction of a third terminal, which will be built to alleviate congestion in Terminals 1 and 2.
In January 2006, a Foreign Laborers' Service Center was set up to provide airport pick-up services and serve the needs of migrant workers. There are service desks in the Arrival lobby of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, and in the Departure lobby of Terminal 1. Service hotlines in Vietnamese, Thai, English, and Indonesian are provided.
Accidents and incidents
On November 28, 1987, South African Airways Flight 295 crashed in a catastrophic fire on the Indian Ocean off Mauritius bound to Jan Smuts Airport (now OR Tambo International Airport) in Johannesburg from Chiang Kai-Shek Airport, as it was known then. All 159 passengers and crew were killed.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was one of the airports targeted by the failed Project Bojinka plot in 1995.
On February 16, 1998, China Airlines Flight 676, which was arriving from Ngurah Rai International Airport, Indonesia, crashed into a residential area while landing in poor weather, killing all 196 people on board and six on the ground.
On October 31, 2000, Singapore Airlines Flight 006, which was on a Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore-Taipei-Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles route rammed into construction equipment on a closed runway 05R during takeoff from Taipei. The aircraft had lifted off and crashed with 82 fatalities. At the time of the incident, the northern runways were designated 05L and 05R (parallel); the latter has since been reassigned as a taxiway.
On May 25, 2002, China Airlines Flight 611 broke up in mid-flight on the way to Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong from Chiang Kai-Shek Airport, as it was known then. All 225 people on board died.
On June 29, 2010, shortly after the arrival of Singapore Airlines Flight 876 from Singapore at gate D6 of Terminal 2, a jetway prepared for Business Class passengers suddenly collapsed. No passengers or staff were hurt.
On July 15, 2010, a Singapore Airlines A330 aircraft was preparing to take off when a taxiing Antonov-124 aircraft accidentally crossed its path, separated by only 1,100 meters. Investigators believe that the Antonov-124 pilots experienced a miscommunication with air traffic controllers.
Terminals, airlines, buildings, and destinations
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport currently has two terminals which are connected by two, short people movers. A third terminal is planned, and a rapid transit system currently under construction will link the terminals together underground.
Terminal 1 is the original passenger terminal of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The design of the building is based on the main terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport. The five-story, 169,500-m terminal, along with the airport, opened in 1979 to relieve the overcrowded Taipei Songshan Airport. All international flights were moved to the airport following the completion of this terminal. Terminal 1 featured 22 gates. A row of 11 gates are located on the north end of the airfield facing the north runway and another row of 11 gates are located on the south end airfield facing the south runway. The two concourses that contained the airplane gates are linked together by a main building that contained the check-in areas, baggage claim, passport immigration areas, and security checkpoint areas. Together they form a giant "H". All gates are equipped with jetways. Gates located at the end of the concourses have one jetway and gates not located at the end of the concourses have two jetways. The terminal used to be very white in color when it first opened. As the years gradually passed, the facade and color is becoming more tan and yellow colored due to air pollution in Taipei.
After the completion of Terminal 2, some gates from Terminal 1 were removed to make space for Terminal 2. Currently Terminal 1 has 18 gates. Alphabetical letters were introduced when Terminal 2 was completed. The north concourse is now Concourse A and the south concourse is now Concourse B. Before Terminal 2, gates were numbered from 1 to 22.
Terminal 1 renovation
Terminal 1 is also currently undergoing a $57.4 million renovation that is expected to be completed by 2011. The renovation includes a new facelift (designed by Japanese architect Norihiko Dan) and a new modern and stylish interior. It will also include construction of dividing walls on the east and west sides of the terminal, renovation of the arrival and departure halls, and construction of new parking garages. It will double its floor area, expand the number of check-in counters, and have enlarged shopping areas. It is expected to increase Terminal 1's capacity from 12 million to 15 million passengers per year when completed. The renovation will take place during late hours to avoid congestion during peak hours.
Terminal 2 opened in 2000 to reduce congestion in the aging Terminal 1. Only the South Concourse had been completed by the time the terminal opened. The South Concourse alone has 10 gates, each with 2 jetways and their own security checkpoints. The North Concourse opened later in 2005, bringing the total number of gates for Terminal 2 to 20 gates; the security checkpoints were moved to a central location in front of the passport control. The 318,000-m facility is capable of handling 17 million passenger per year.
The Southern and Northern Concourses are also known as Concourse C and Concourse D, respectively. Terminals 1 and 2 are connected by two short people mover lines, with one from Concourse A to D, and the other from B to C.
A third terminal is being planned and is expected to handle 43 million passengers per year when completed. The first stage is scheduled to be completed in 2013 or 2014, while the entire project will be completed by 2020.
China Airlines has its headquarters, CAL Park (Chinese: 華航園區 Huáháng Yuánqū), on the grounds of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CAL Park, located at the airport entrance forms a straight line with Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and the future Terminal 3.
Airlines and destinations
Frequent buses link the airport to Taipei, Taoyuan City, Jhongli, Taichung, Banqiao, Changhua, and THSR's Taoyuan Station. Bus terminals are present at both terminals.
The Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT System is scheduled to begin service in 2013 and will link both terminals to Taipei and Zhongli, Taoyuan. Express services will allow for travel to Taipei Station in 35 minutes.
Taxi queues are outside the arrival halls of both terminals and are available 24 hours a day. They are metered and subject to a 50% surcharge.
Car rentals are available at both terminals. The airport is served by National Highway No. 2.
The Chung Cheng Aviation Museum (Chinese: 中正航空科學館) is located on the south-eastern area of the airport between the main freeway entrance and the terminals. It was built in 1981 by Boeing under CAA contract. Many retired Republic of China Air Force fighters are represented here. Its purpose is to preserve aviation history and provide public understanding of the civil aviation industry.
Located adjacent the Aviation Museum and the convention center is the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, which opened in November 2009. The 360-room hotel is equipped with restaurants, recreation and fitness centers, and a hair salon and spa.
In addition to the remodeling of the aging Terminal 1 (scheduled for completion by September 2011), the runways and taxiways are set to be expanded by 2014 to accommodate large planes (including the Airbus A380) at a cost of NT$10.7 billion. The runways will undergo their first major resurfacing and length extension in 30 years. Navigation facilities will also be upgraded to reduce the effects of bad weather on airport operations. Runway and navigation aid improvement projects are expected to be completed by May 2014.
As part of the "Taoyuan Aerotropolis" plan (scheduled for completion in 2020), existing terminals will be expanded, a new terminal will be constructed, an aerospace industrial part will be established, and special zones for cargo, passenger and logistic services will be developed. The Taoyuan Airport MRT System is scheduled to open in 2013, and will link the airport to Taipei and Taoyuan County by rail.
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