The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport will today close its southern runway for renovation for 11 months, a closure that is expected to cause flight delays of 10 to 20 minutes during peak hours.
Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC) said it is scheduled to reopen the runway on Jan. 15 next year. It is the first time that the airport has had to close the runway for that length of time.
Company senior vice president Wen Yung-sung (溫永松) said that flights will land in or take off from the northern runway during the closure, and a new flight schedule has been issued to airlines to accommodate the changes.
“We think that the delays can be kept within a tolerable range of 10 to 20 minutes, but the delays may be longer if there is bad weather,” he said.
Wen said that the airport has prepared a backup taxiway on which the flights can take off under emergency situations. However, he said the taxiway would not be used for landing.
Wen said peak hours for departing flights are from 6am to 9am and from 12pm to 3pm, while for arriving flights the peak hours are generally between 3pm and 12am.
The nation’s largest airport has two runways, both in use for more than 30 years, with only partial repairs carried out on them.
The company said it began a five-year project in 2011 costing a total of NT$10.4 billion (US$346 million) to renovate the runways and taxiways, as well as to upgrade the air navigation facilities after its funding was approved by the Executive Yuan.
The renovation is intended to enable the airport to accommodate larger aircrafts, such as Airbus 380-model passenger jets, the company said.
In other developments, the company said that construction related to the Taoyuan Aerometropolis Project, a large development surrounding the Taoyuan airport, is scheduled to begin in 2016.
In addition, the airport’s third runway will have to be launched 10 years before the original target date due to a rapid increase in passengers, the company said.
TIAC president David Fei (費鴻鈞) said the passenger volume exceeded 30 million last year, registering year-on-year growth of 11 percent, and could exceed 40 million within four years at a growth rate of 10 percent per year.
“When we planned the building of Terminal Three, we expected the growth rate of passengers to be about 3 percent annually. Now the two runways may soon be unable to meet rising demand,” Fei said.
Fei added that the two runways would be crowded when the passenger volume reaches 50 million per year, adding that at that point the closure of one runway would paralyze the airport.
Previously, construction of the third runway was not to be completed until 2030, and would be built after Terminal Three is launched.
Fei said that deadline now needs to be moved to 2020 or 2021, and plans are under way to start building Terminal Three and the third runway in 2016, with both projects finishing by 2020.