Despite a sharp drop in foreign visitors because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in summer, a record number of passengers used Incheon International Airport this year, officials said Tuesday.
According to the authorities, 47.6 million people used the airport, up from 45.5 million last year, and the most since the airport opened in 2001. The number of inbound travelers plunged 10.5 percent in June amid the MERS fears, but arrivals rebounded in August thanks to “emergency steps,” such as exempting and reducing airport fees.
Transfer passengers also grew 5.3 percent to 7.63 million, as the airport expanded incentives to Chinese and Indian travelers and conducted aggressive marketing for airlines.
Large development projects are also on schedule. In April, the airport signed a memorandum of understanding with Mohegan Sun, a U.S. company, to build a $5 billion casino-and-hotel complex near the airport.
The airport also concluded an $11.69-million consultation deal with New Istanbul Airport to make available its airport operational know-how, based on Incheon’s rating as offering the best airport service for the past 10 years in a row, they said.
The airport’s third-phase expansion project is also under way at a cost of 4.93 trillion won ($4.18 billion). Due for completion by 2017, the project will increase annual passenger-handling capacity from 44 million people to 62 million, officials said.