Fri, Jun 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Songshan airport closure unlikely: aviation officials

AT FULL CAPACITY:The inner-city airport remains popular and reached its maximum capacity last year, but its presence puts restrictions on Taipei’s skyline

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taipei International Airport (Songshan Airport) is not likely to be relocated to Taoyuan within 20 years, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

The issue was brought up again yesterday by Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) at the Taoyuan Airport Development Forum, which was hosted by Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC).

“An airport is different from a supermarket: People do not need to have an airport close to where they live. We propose relocating Songshan airport after considering whether its functions could be performed by other airports, and the costs and benefits of keeping the airport,” he said.

Lin said 6.14 million passengers used Songshan airport last year and it had reached its designed capacity, adding that an CAA report showed flights heading to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport sometimes interfered with Songshan’s operations.

“The government spent NT$113.85 billion [US$3.78 billion] building the Taoyuan International Airport MRT connecting Taipei and Taoyuan, which has become operational this year. We also have Kaohsiung International Airport, which can help divide the nation’s air traffic between the north and the south. In between these airports we have the high speed rail to help transport people as well,” Lin said.

The skyline in Taipei can only be freed up for further development if the airport is relocated to Taoyuan, Lin said.

CAA Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) said that many large international cities around the world have inner-city airports.

The greater London area, for example, has five airports, he said.

“The current location of Songshan airport became part of the city center because of the city’s continuous expansion. Many experts have praised Songshan airport as a small and cost-effective airport,” he said.

If Songshan Airport is to be relocated, the most difficult part would be to have flights from some of the nation’s outlying islands — Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang County (Matsu) — land at Taoyuan airport instead, Lin Kuo-hsien said.

Legislators from these counties are concerned about whether their constituents could easily access the capital by air, he said.

The CAA would endorse moving Songshan airport if the government thought it can afford the cost, Lin Kuo-hsien said, adding that would not happen for another 20 years.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Singapore Changi Airport have shown that cities and airports can coexist, he said.

TIAC chairman Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said Taoyuan airport was designed to be exclusively an international airport, not to combine the functions of international and domestic airport.

The current airport facilities would have to be adjusted if the Taoyuan and Songshan airports were to be merged, he said, adding that the airport corporations would have to make preparations accordingly if government policy so mandates.

“Relocating Songshan Airport is not just an issue of aviation technology and management: It also involves possible changes to the nation’s urban development and air transport policies. All these issues demand thorough discussion,” Tseng said.

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