South Korea Wants To Build New Airport in the Sea

Photo Credit: Joris Wendt/AviationSource

LONDON – The South Korean government wants to build an airport off the coast of Busan, the country’s biggest island, to move the traffic from the (soon to be) congested airport in the region and to seek balanced development in the region, the land ministry said on Tuesday.

Last year, the government had already proposed a bill for this major development to build the airport on the Gadeok Island, the biggest island of Busan, and has already begun a preliminary feasibility study on the project.

The plan…

The current proposal is to build an offshore airport, like the Japanese Kansai airport, and move the international traffic to the new airport, while the domestic traffic stays at the old Gimhae airport, which is also located in Busan.

The current forecasts are that in 2065 the airport will handle “some 23.36 million passengers and 286,000 tons of cargo”.

There were multiple proposals, however, with some being that the airport would be built entirely on land, those ideas were scrapped as the airport would be built too close to populated areas, making 24-hour operations impossible, while other proposals would impede the operations of the nearby Gimhae and Jinhae airports.

The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in has expressed the importance of fast-tracking the development of the airport.

“It is meaningful that we decided on the plan and exemption of the preliminary feasibility analysis of the new Gadeok-do airport, which has long been a desire of residents in the southeast,” Moon said.

“This was possible because of the government’s effort toward a national balanced development, the strong passion of the residents in Busan, Ulsan, and South Gyeongsang, and the active cooperation by the National Assembly in legislating a special law [that spearheaded the international airport].”

The current government wants to begin building the airport in 2025 if they will receive an exemption for a feasibility study, and it should be ready around 2035.

Concerns Are Rife…

There are, however, many concerns about how this will turn out, with some fearing that the new airport would disrupt the ecosystem in the seas, or that the airport would require a bigger budget and more time.

The debate of opening a new airport in the region isn’t a new one and has been proposed almost 20 years ago when the then ruling government of Roh Moo-hyun has proposed that there has to be a new airport in the region, as the traffic of the Gimhae Airport has become too saturated.

Some critics had feared that the to-be-constructed airport will negatively impact the region’s environment and that it would not be economically feasible, abandoning the project.

The issue would be raised again during the government of Park Geun-Hye, but instead of building a new airport, she wanted to expand the already existing airport.

The new airport would be a great engineering feat, meaning that it requires a lot of dedication to carefully plan and build the airport.

The main concern of the airport, the environmental concern, is the biggest issue that’s at play here, as the airport would need to be built on an artificial island, which means that the entire ecosystem would be affected by the area.

One of the reasons that it would affect the ecosystem is that the airport would create excessive noise pollution, and the entire marine life is dependent on sound waves.

It has already been proven that the shipping industry is already disturbing many animals, such as whales, dolphins, and similar animals, as the sound of the engines is loud enough for them to mistake the engine for another potential sea mammal.

While the planes will already be high up in the sky, it’s the continuous noise the airports generate that is becoming a problem. The sound waves created by the plane’s engines are low enough for them not to be fully absorbed by the water.

While the new airport would be relieving the already existing airports, it is doubtful the project will be successful financially, as Kansai Airport has been in a huge debt long after its completion, which forced the airport to ask for high landing fees, such as $7400 for a Boeing 747, keeping many interested parties away and turn to cheaper alternatives.

However, despite all of these, its location would give the airport an important position in the aviation industry, as it would not be restricted by any closing time because it is close to a city.

The airport would be open 24 hours a day, allowing (almost) every plane, and if a possible expansion project has to be done within the near future, they would have the freedom to expand it to any size they want without being bound by the same restrictions.

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