Written by JJ Ahn, Executive Director, Public Relations, Incheon International Airport Corporation
Winner of ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) award for 11 consecutive years, Incheon Airport is recognized as an innovator in the airport service sector. At the time of its opening in 2001, Incheon Airport was considered no different than any other international airport, but in the years since, Incheon has exceeded all expectations and demonstrated extraordinary growth, cementing its status as a world-class airport.
Since its opening, Incheon’s passenger traffic increased at an average annual growth rate of 7%, culminating with Incheon welcoming its 500 millionth passenger in 2016. Incheon is truly a mega-airport in every sense, ranking eighth in the world in international passenger traffic and third in the world in international cargo movements in 2015. That same year, Incheon Airport connected to 191 cities as the premier gateway airport in Northeast Asia, having served some 57 million passengers.
Incheon Airport is an avid supporter of ACI’s APEX in Safety programme, helping to enhance the level of safety in airports across the world. As an Airport Safety Partner, Incheon has provided host airports with safety experts since 2011. In recognition of its contribution to the APEX in Safety programme, Incheon Airport received the APEX Safety Partner Award in 2014. Additionally, Incheon Airport Aviation Academy has gained international recognition as a top-tier aviation training institute. The Academy has trained 5,000 trainees from 130 countries and also received the “Best STP Implementation Award” from the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Incheon’s achievements over its relatively short 15-year existence are attributable to the airport’s persistent efforts to set a new benchmark in customer service. Consultative groups, and collective and comprehensive systems that bring together stakeholder knowledge, have yielded significant customer service innovations.
Incheon Airport hosts roughly 920 tenants, contractors and concessionaires, and is home to approximately 40,000 employees. Although it is challenging to engage such a large number of stakeholders, Incheon is committed to ensuring that all stakeholders share the same values and maintain the highest level of service. To this end, Incheon has a long-term strategy in place to ensure customer satisfaction. The Customer Service Improvement Committee, which comprises representatives from airport tenants and contractors, holds regular meetings to share ideas and discuss issues related to better serving passengers.
The best practices in customer service are published as a booklet, effectively allowing the airport to share innovative ideas with stakeholders and ensure everyone working on the airport site is aligned. Moreover, any employee of Incheon Airport is eligible for Incheon’s customer service training to spread the customer service mindset and deliver the best service possible.
Incheon Airport continues to expand its operating systems and facilities to handle rapid passenger growth. Following completion of first-phase construction in 2001, a concourse building and a third runway were built and completed in 2008 as part of second-phase construction. Currently, third-phase construction is underway and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.
Third-phase construction is a mega-project worth KRW4.9 trillion (US$4.9 billion). It features a second passenger terminal (T2) with a capacity of 18 million passengers; 56 passenger aprons; and a second Transportation Center with airport railroad platforms and bus terminals. Other elements of the project include intra-airport shuttle trains; a 6.4-kilometre extension of the airport railroad; and the construction of an airport expressway.
The main feature of the third phase is T2, the construction of which focuses on maximizing passenger convenience, integrating amenities and facilities, and reducing congestion. Leading-edge technologies are being incorporated in T2 to build eco-friendly, intelligent and energy-saving systems.
Some changes from the existing passenger terminal (T1) include reduced walking distance between the airport railroad and T2. Furthermore, the new bus terminal at T2 will be indoors for passenger convenience. Commercial facilities will be clustered based on their functions, and the passport control area and security checkpoints will be tripled in size to reduce congestion and improve passenger flow.
Moreover, to improve the transit experience for passengers, transit amenities such as capsule hotels, sports facilities, an arcade, an internet zone, showers and comfortable seating are provided. In addition, passengers can enjoy performances and concerts at the giant, four-story-high open space known as the Great Hall, and relax at nature-friendly lounges and rest areas filled with plants and trees.
In order to gain momentum in attracting new passengers and becoming a mega-hub, Incheon Airport is developing the Air-City, an extensive offering of hotels, cultural facilities, logistics complexes, maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and integrated resorts.
The resorts are conveniently located less than 10 minutes’ drive from the airport terminals. Paradise City and Inspire Integrated Resort, scheduled to open in 2017 and 2020 respectively, bring together luxury accommodation options, shopping malls, convention centres, foreigner-only casinos and various recreational facilities such as a theme park, a water park, an aquarium and a 15,000-seat indoor arena.
Since Incheon’s integrated resorts are readily accessible to transit passengers and tourists from around the world, the resorts are expected to attract a whopping 2.3 million passengers annually over the next two decades. The integrated resorts will also boost transit passenger traffic, contributing greatly to Incheon’s competitiveness as a hub.
Ensuring the safe movement of passengers and cargo is no longer the only function of an airport. Incheon Airport will continue to develop its expanding role as an economic, cultural and social centre to generate new demand, all the while providing passengers with an exceptional airport experience.
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