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Busan's opportunity for new airport takes off


△ Busan has long needed a new airport with less noise pollution, increased safety and larger size to fulfill the city's travel demands. (Source: Kookje Newspaper)

Busan is one step closer to building a new airport. A study from a joint committee between City Hall and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport concluded, after 11 months, that expanding Gimhae International Airport is not feasible, citing environmental concerns, noise pollution, safety issues, struggles with demand and general operational impracticalities. With plans to expand Gimhae International Airport now all but collapsed, City Hall aims to construct the city's new gateway to the world on Gadeokdo Island.

City Hall welcomed the committee's decision to virtually scrap the Gimhae airport plan, hailing it a historic decision for the future of South Korea. In order to land the 2030 World Expo, City Hall has asked the national assembly for assurance that the construction of the new Gadeokdo Island airport will go through unimpeded. Problems with Gimhae International Airport are well documented. The airport is too small for Busan's population, and flights are banned from midnight to 6 a.m. due to noise concerns. Environmental issues also hinder any further development of the facility. Busan's calls for a new airport capable of handling its high number of travelers 24 hours a day date back to the early 1990s.


△ Busanites demand a new airport in 2016. (Source: Kookje Newspaper)

What it means for Busan

The new airport will allow Busan to fulfill its potential as a global logistics hub. Once a 24-hour airport begins operating, Busan will enjoy the benefits of a complex tri-port system that encompasses rail, sea and sky similar to those of Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam. Home to the world's fourth-largest port as of 2020, Busan has a geopolitical advantage in becoming the starting and ending point of the Trans-Asian Railway. Busan will take advantage of further synergy after the airport is built, because the city's railways, ports and airport will be located within 20 kilometers of each other. Furthermore, the new airport will allow large planes to depart and arrive with scores of passengers coming to and from the Americas, Europe and Oceania who won't need to travel through Incheon. 

And, if it is to run 24 hours a day, it will allow for a great volume of visitors, which is an essential component in acquiring hosting privileges of the 2030 World Expo. More than 50 million people from 160 countries may take part in the global event from May to October in 2030 in and around Busanhang Port. A new airport on Gadeokdo Island makes such a dream all the more possible, and it will allow Busan to fully establish itself as an international destination for tourism and business.