Seoul Incheon opens new terminal in time for Olympics
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Seoul Incheon has opened its new terminal as South Korea prepares to welcome thousands of visitors to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games next month, showcasing a country at the forefront of aviation and airport technology.
The airport's second terminal is north of the existing facility. It represents the first major expansion at the airport in 17 years and will increase the airport's capacity to around 72 million passengers per year, up from 54 million.
National airline Korean Air, which this month took delivery of its first new Bombardier CSeries aircraft, is the first tenant of the new terminal alongside its SkyTeam partners Air France, Delta Air Lines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. All other carriers will continue to use Terminal 1.
A Korean Air Airbus A380 from New York JFK was the first to arrive at the terminal's gates. The new building is capable of handling 18 million passengers per year.
The terminal features many high-tech additions, including self-check-in machines, smart bag-drop machines, solar panels and vegetation that helps refresh the air and provide heating. However, the most talked-about addition is a fleet of robots deployed to help passengers navigate — with rumors that they can even escort you to your gate.
The Great Hall centerpiece spans four stories and includes a media wall and landscaping. The building is decorated throughout with Korean designs, and construction heavily features local granite and wood. Additional features include an airside hotel, an observation deck and art installations by Korean artists throughout.
The opening, which took place Jan. 18, comes as South Korea prepares to host the Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang — an event that has made headlines as the controversial North Korea has agreed to send athletes to take part under the same flag as those from the South.
Many visitors traveling to the country for the Olympics will do so on Korean Air and be among the first to experience the new terminal and its futuristic technology firsthand. The airport is aware that Terminal 2 will be the perfect way to impress in that first glimpse of South Korea.
Incheon, which opened in 2001, has already been an award-winning airport in the Airport Service Category of the Airport Councils International (ACI) since 2006, ahead of other airports in the Large category including Singapore Changi.
The five-story terminal, which includes new business lounges for Korean Air customers, was built at a cost of $4.5 billion and carefully timed to be ready for the 2018 Games and is set to only enhance the quality of the airport.
Terminal 2 is now fully operational, with its own link to the Airport Railroad Express (AREX), which links directly to Seoul. There is also an underground train connecting it to the original Terminal 1 for transiting passengers.
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