President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated yesterday the importance of establishing the Taoyuan Airport Zone, saying that failure to do so would amount to squandering the potential of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
“The development of the free trade zone at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was limited without cross-strait direct flights. Direct flights between Taiwan and China are now available, and if the Airport Zone is still not there, it will be a complete waste of the airport’s potential,” Ma said in a speech yesterday to the International Conference on Aerotropolis hosted by the Taoyuan County Government and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The Taoyuan Airport Zone is one of the 12 “i-Taiwan” projects Ma promoted during his presidential campaign last year.
Ma told the audience that the Airport Zone would include the airport and 5,000 hectares of surrounding land. The government plans to renovate the airport’s first terminal, which has been in use for 30 years, and is planning to add a third terminal.
Ma said the geographical advantage of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was its location at the “center” of the world’s three big economic entities, the US, Japan and China. The airport could become a key transit hub in Asia, he said.
“The airport zone will be managed and operated by professionals, which is also [a move in] the right direction,” he said. “The Civil Aeronautics Administration [CAA] will instead serve as an overseer and create policies to regulate the operation of the Airport Zone.”
Taoyuan County Commissioner Eric Chu (朱立倫) said the project was pivotal to Taiwan’s long-term development.
Chu said the airport’s passenger traffic and freight volume had declined last year, but that the international gateway’s future was bright.
Citing CAA forecasts that the airport’s passenger traffic would increase from 21.9 million people last year to 47.5 million people in 2035, and cargo volume from 1.49 million tonnes last year to 4.03 million tonnes in 2035, Chu said Taoyuan County must seize the potential for growth and cooperate with the central government on the project.
The two-day conference brought together experts from countries such as Japan, the Netherlands, the US and Singapore to share their experience in developing airport zones, also called aerotropolises, and exchange thoughts on the development of the Taoyuan Airport Zone.
Additional reporting by CNA