South Korea to build first floating airport in Busan

South Korea to build first floating airport in Busan

An artist's impression of a new airport to be built at sea off Busan, South Korea's second largest city. (Pulse photo)
An artist's impression of a new airport to be built at sea off Busan, South Korea's second largest city. (Pulse photo)

SEOUL: South Korea plans to build a new airport for the country’s second largest city Busan as the nation’s first offshore airport at a total investment of 13.7 trillion won (372 billion baht).

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said on Tuesday that after reviewing five options for Busan’s new airport on Gadeok island, the biggest island of Busan, it finally decided to go offshore for the new international airport to avoid noise-sensitive areas, potential land subsistence and flight congestion due to proximity to nearby Gimhae and Jinhae airports, Pulse reported on Wednesday.

The plan includes a 3,500-metre runway in consideration of the national flag-carrying freighters including B747-400F.

The basic blueprint is very likely to be exempted from a mandatory feasibility analysis to ensure speedy project implementation as President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to push for the airport construction during his presidential campaign. President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday also stressed the importance of fast-tracking the construction of Gadeok-do International Airport, which has long been a desire of residents in the South Gyeongsang region.

Given the time for the basic plan development, environmental impact assessment and other essential procedures, construction of the new airport is expected to begin in 2025 and last up to nine years and eight months to be open in June 2035.

If the construction plan is okayed, Gadeok-do International Airport would be South Korea’s first offshore airport to be built in a floating structure at sea.

But the government’s new construction plan may trigger a controversy after the total construction cost nearly doubled to 13.7 trillion won from the previous proposal by the Busan Metropolitan City despite smaller demand projection. The ministry projects some 23.36 million passengers and some 286,000 tonnes of cargo to be generated by the new airport by 2065, but the figures are half lower than the city’s previous forecasts.

The airport opening will likely be also delayed more than one year from the original plan of December 2029, which would prevent the Busan city government from using the new airport in 2030 when it hopes to host the World Expo.

The airport’s economic ripple effect is expected to reach 23 trillion won.

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