South Korea's Incheon Airport celebrates opening of second terminal

South Korea's main gateway Incheon International Airport has opened its second terminal. The Straits Times South Korea Correspondent Chang May Choon checks out some of its high tech features and virtual reality offerings.

SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korea's main gateway airport held a grand opening ceremony on Friday (Jan 12) for its second passenger terminal, set to open to the public next Thursday (Jan 18), three weeks ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

President Moon Jae In and Transport Minister Kim Hyun Mee, along with Incheon Airport's honorary spokesmodels, figure skater Kim Yu Na and actor Song Joong Ki, attended the event.

"An airport is a symbol of a nation's power and its level of international exchanges," President Moon said in a speech at the ceremony.

"With the opening of the second terminal, Incheon Airport now has the ability to service 72 million passengers annually. It has grown to become the world's fifth-most sought international gateway airport and has completed preparations for its second leap forward."

Mr Moon also promised continued support for expanding the airport moving forward.

"Incheon Airport must become a hub not only in East Asia, but for the world," he said.

"The Korean government will proactively support the airport so that it will be able to service 100 million passengers annually by 2023."

The new terminal will house four airlines affiliated with the SkyTeam air alliance - Korean Air, Delta, KLM and Air France.

"The opening of the second passenger terminal on Jan. 18 will be another turning point, as Incheon Airport strives to become the best," said Chung Il Young, CEO of Incheon International Airport Corp.

"We will stabilise operations as soon as the airport opens to perfectly fulfill our role as Korea's central airport, and will support the success of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics."

The second terminal will open in time to serve athletes and Olympics officials who will begin entering South Korea starting on Jan 30 to prepare for the Winter Games. Those heading to Pyeongchang can either take a transfer plane to Yangyang Airport or a KTX train from Incheon Airport.

The second terminal has a variety of information and communication technology solutions to allow better flow of traffic, including self-check-in and bag drop kiosks, robots that provide information about facilities and 360-degree body scanners.

Starting from Saturday (Jan 13), the airport corporation will run a shuttle bus between the two terminals every five minutes to transport passengers who may have gone to the wrong terminal.

Construction of the 4.9 trillion won (S$6 billion) second passenger terminal at Incheon Airport began in June 2009.