Tue, Feb 10, 2009 - Page 11 News List

S Korean airport struggles with no passenger traffic

‘GHOST FLIGHTS’ Korea Airport Corp estimated that 11 of the 14 local airports posted a deficit last year, while the media called for their closure

AFP , SEOUL

A US$260 million South Korean airport has become a “ghost airport” with not a single passenger in the past three months, officials and a news report said yesterday.

Yangyang International Airport on the east coast handled its last flight on Nov. 1, the Korea Airport Corp said.

The state firm admitted that last year 146 airport staff served only a daily average of 26 passengers at the seven-year-old airport.

The airport, built with a government budget of 356.7 billion won (US$260 million) to promote regional tourism, has posted a deficit of more than 10 billion won each year for three consecutive years, it said.

The company estimated that 11 out of 14 local airports around the country posted a deficit last year.

The conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper yesterday termed Yangyang a “ghost airport.”

It blamed “incompetent planning and administration” by previous liberal governments and said the airports should either be shut down or privatized.

Korea Airport Corp spokesman Park Soon-cheon said construction had been suspended at two other airport projects, Uljin in the southeastern province of North Gyeongsang and Gimje in the southwestern province of North Jeolla.

Authorities are considering turning Uljin, which is 85 percent completed, into a pilot training center, he said.

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