‘A world best air hub’

Posted: 30 May 2008 | Jaehee Lee, President & CEO, Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) | No comments yet

Who could possibly imagine that a seven-year-old airport could sweep most of the prestigious awards in the international airport industry? Incheon International Airport, the gateway to South Korea and one of the largest and busiest airports in Asia, is leading the way into the region’s future.

Who could possibly imagine that a seven-year-old airport could sweep most of the prestigious awards in the international airport industry? Incheon International Airport, the gateway to South Korea and one of the largest and busiest airports in Asia, is leading the way into the region’s future.

Incheon International Airport (IIAC) was a high-tech surprise the moment it opened its doors to the world in March, 2001. A symbol of the very hope and pride it instilled in the Korean people. IIAC is now getting ready to reveal its new face in the grand opening of its second phase facilities, giving the world cause for excitement and astonishment, and laying down an entirely new paradigm for future airports.

The airport processed 31.5 million passengers, 2.5 million metric tons of cargo and 210,000 flight movements in 2007. These numbers have been growing by 8.3% annually. Currently 69 airlines are serving Incheon International Airport, linking 160 cities worldwide. With this remarkable growth, Incheon International Airport ranked 10th in the world in terms of international passenger volume and 2nd in international cargo traffic in 2006.

The success in keeping an efficient and reliable operation, and providing high-quality services to airport customers, has won the airport prestigious recognition. Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) has been chosen as the best airport in the world by Airport Council International’s Airport Service Quality awards program for three consecutive years, competing with 99 airports globally. Incheon International Airport also received additional awards, such as Most Favorite Airport by TIME Magazine, World’s Best Airport by Global Traveler (2004, 2006, 2007), 2006 Top Asia-Pacific Efficiency Award by the Air Transport Research Society, and the Best Airport of the Year by OAG for 2007.

Aiming to become a top five global air hub by 2010, IIAC is taking proactive steps to attract transfer passengers via Incheon. In anticipation of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 Shanghai Expo, IIAC is the most convenient airport in which to transfer travellers from/to major or regional cities in Japan or China. This is due to convenient flight schedules between 62 cities in China and Japan, totalling 9,400 flight movements per month.

There are other benefits not to be missed, such as the ‘Through Check-in System’, which allows you to check your baggage to your final destination from your origin. If you are travelling from/to Qingdao or Fukuoka from other airports around the world, for example, stop by Incheon International Airport for a time-efficient and streamlined transfer process to major international gateways in Japan or China, without having to worry about visas and double handling of baggage. IIAC will provide a hassle-free experience, with direct delivery of checked-in baggage to your final destination without additional immigration or customs procedures; exquisite duty free shopping and passenger-friendly service amenities. Imagine yourself with sufficient time to explore one of the world’s best duty free shopping facilities at the Incheon International Airport!

Airport amenities

If you are visiting Incheon International Airport, you will find an array of passenger-friendly facilities. Amenities include an Internet lounge at $0.5 a minute, massage and sauna facilities costing only $8 for 30 minutes, a children’s playroom, storage lockers free of charge up to one day, a traditional ‘Experience Korea’ location where visitors can learn about and make traditional Korean handicrafts, and the Transit Hotel (+82-32-743-3000). In addition, cultural art performances and mini classical music concerts are periodically being held to entertain visitors with more exciting experiences. Furthermore, with the opening of the new concourse, new passenger service amenities such as; a movie & news lounge, internet, music, information technology exhibition, museum, foot & body massage, gym, shower, café and more, will be introduced to all passengers to experience ‘The Life of a Star.’ Needless to say, all of these facilities are open to all transfer passengers.

Transit tour programmes

For those who are interested in Korean culture, the ‘Korean Wave’ and ‘Korean Traditional Culture Exhibitions’ are good places to visit. If you have more than 2-hour’s transfer time, various transfer tour programmes are available. Transit tour programmes range in duration from a one-hour ‘Temple Tour’, priced at $5, to the five-hour ‘Sky Golf Tour’, offering 18 holes at Sky 72; site of the largest golf course in northeast Asia, located five minutes away from the airport. In particular, around the airport there are some beautiful islands which have been used as filming locations for famous Korean dramas and movie sets such as ‘Full House’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Passengers can stroll around the locations where those dramas were filmed. In addition, there are various city tour programmes that you can enjoy to discover more about Korea.

World’s most advanced airport facilities

The construction for the second-phase facilities began in 2002 and was completed after six years and an investment of 4 trillion Korean won ($4 billion). The undertaking produced a simple but elegant passenger terminal, a gigantic 4000-metre runway, capable of accommodating superliners like the Airbus A-380, a ‘Starline’ automated transport system running between the passenger terminal and the boarding areas in the newly constructed concourse, and the airport boasts the latest NAVAIDs. Completion of the second-phase facilities means that Incheon International Airport now possesses world-class hardware to go with its software, capable of handling 50 million passengers and 5 million metric tonnes of cargo per year.

Advanced IT/BT makes nonstop service possible

Korea is one of the world’s premier powers in IT and Biotechnology, and Incheon International Airport has translated this IT and BT prowess into the creation of an advanced ‘ubiquitous’ environment. This enables fast and convenient immigration processing for travellers. With cyber-terminals utilising mobile technology, passengers can now book their tickets, check in for boarding passes, and even do some shopping at the airport.

The advanced self check-in system and ‘U-Immigration’ (utilising the latest biometric technology) is the icing on the cake, and nearly eliminates waiting time by speeding passengers through the immigration process.

‘Airstar’ – A new concept in a ‘Star & Starlife’ shopping experience

Along with the rest of the second-phase facilities, Incheon International Airport also unveiled ‘Airstar’, where the best shopping facilities, excellent services, and great merchandise come together. It is one shopping area that will upend all established notions of shopping at airports.
With an exquisite interior and level of service that puts five-star hotels to shame, and store shelves filled with some of the world’s most recognised brand names, this premier shopping area will dazzle everyone, leaving every shopper feeling like a star.

World-class transfer facilities for a more enjoyable journey

To ensure that transfer passengers have an enjoyable journey, the passenger terminal and concourse provide a wealth of convenient facilities for their rest and relaxation. These include luxury lounges and bars, internet cafes, rest areas and movie rooms, as well as displays that give visitors a glimpse into traditional Korean culture, helping to enrich transfer passengers’ free time, prior to boarding their next flight.

Culture & art to the airport – ‘Cultureport’

On the floor and in the hallways of Incheon International Airport, there may be an exhibition by a world-famous artist, performances both modern and classical, and museums that display Korea’s traditional culture to the world. Better yet, there could be all of these on a given day, because Incheon International Airport is a ‘Cultureport.’ Here, the excitement of diverse cultures and arts gives the term ‘international exchange’ new meaning.

A landscape for all seasons and a landmark ‘Flying to the Future’

The constantly changing Incheon International Airport never fails to move and excite, presenting a face that is both traditionally Korean and futuristic in the extreme. Everyone coming into the airport is greeted by landscaping that embodies all of Korea’s four distinct seasons, graced by a landmark that symbolises the IIAC’s vision to become the world’s premier airport, aptly titled ‘Flying to the Future’. Every departing traveller will leave with a lasting impression, made by the landscaping and landmark.

IIAC: Korea’s new engine of growth for the 21st Century

The grand opening of Incheon International Airport’s second-phase facilities, is actually only the first step in IIAC’s ambitious quest to become ‘A World Best Air Hub.’ This means securing a strategic advantage in competition against other major airports in East Asia, by staying an entire level above them in airport operations and services, and thus becoming a leading force for globalisation in the 21st century.

In June 2008, Incheon International Airport will reveal its second-phase facilities to the world in the grandest opening ever, and establish itself as the prime engine of growth in Korea’s pursuit to become a first-class nation. IIAC is the new future for ‘Global Korea’, and the future is almost here.


IIAC aims to become a top-five global air hub by 2010. Incheon International Airport currently ranks number 10 in International passenger traffic. IIAC aims to become a hub airport for logistics in Northeast Asia, as one of the world’s best logistics centres, connecting Northeast Asia to the world. We are aggressively working towards creating sustainable value streams for customers, by providing exciting new experiences through highly professional employees and a creative corporate culture. By 2010, we aim to become one of the top 5 global air hubs, and furthermore our aerotropolis, a world-class resort town and a logistics centre around the airport, will be developed in the near future.

The airport is set to open ‘Fashion Island’ on a nearby 160-acre site. Targeted to debut between 2008 and 2011, ‘Fashion Island’ will be comprised of a fashion convention centre, fashion academy, shopping mall and water park. There are also plans underway to develop a theme park on the scale of Disney and Universal.

To meet the increasing future demand, IIAC launched the second phase of construction in 2002. The completion of the second phase of construction will increase IIAC’s capacity to 410,000 flight movements a year, from the current 240,000 and will enable the airport to handle 44 million passengers and 4.5 million metric tonnes of cargo a year. Second phase facilities are expected to begin operations in June 2008.

Upon completion of the Northeast Asia logistics hub and Dream World, Incheon International Airport will solidify its position as the world’s best airport and gateway to China and Japan, annually hosting 100 million air travellers and handling 7 million tonnes of cargo. It will be one of the key drivers of growth for Northeast Asia.

About Jaehee Lee

Jaehee Lee is President & CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC). Born in Busan, Korea in 1947, Mr Lee graduated from Busan High School in 1964 and went on to Busan National University, School of Commerce, where he majored in Business Administration. His career has taken him to such companies as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hyatt Regency in Seoul and TNT Express Worldwide, where he rose from Country General Manager, Korea, to President – North Asia. He then went on to Unilever Korea, where he was CEO & Chairman until Jun 2005. Mr Lee is a member of the Korea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and has been a licensed tax accountant since 1967.

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