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Ulleung Airport to be redesigned again

Posted September. 05, 2023 08:22,   

Updated September. 05, 2023 08:22


The Ulleung Airport is undergoing yet another redesign, despite nearly 30% of the construction being realized, aiming for a 2025 inaugural opening. Originally designed to serve 50-seat smaller aircraft— a type not presently found in Korea— the facility now recognizes the urgent need to adapt its blueprint to house larger aircraft, mandating considerable augmentations such as a widened runway.

A comprehensive featured article released in this paper on Monday reveals that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, among other agencies, is actively contemplating the incorporation of 'ATR 72' and 'E190-E2' aircraft, both of which have an 80-passenger capacity, into the Ulleungdo route. Contrarily, the existing airport infrastructure is tailored to the specifications of a smaller, Class 2C size, capable of hosting the landing and takeoff of 50-seat aircraft such as the 'ATR 42' or the discontinued 'DHC-8-300 (Q300).' Given that aircraft with fewer than 50 seats are no longer economically viable, the aircraft industry has been phased out of current ownership and future procurement plans for this type of plane. Notably, production of the Q300 ceased back in 2009.

It should be recalled that back in 2013, the government carried out a preliminary feasibility assessment based on the Class 2C airport criteria. Should the construction proceed as originally planned, there looms a significant risk of the facility morphing into a 'ghost airport,' conspicuously absent of airline operations.

Having acknowledged the looming crisis, the government has resolved to modify the original blueprints, enlarging the safety zones and flanking the runway to comply with the standards necessary to accommodate 80-seat aircraft. Consequently, this shift in strategy is projected to escalate the total project expenditure from its current figure of 665.1 billion won, potentially adding several tens to hundreds of billions of won to the budget.