Cabinet gives green light to Songshan airport plan

REACHING FOR THE SKY::The proposal calls for NT$10 billion for land acquisition, transportation upgrades and expansion of airport capacity, due for completion in 2013

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 3

The Cabinet yesterday approved a development project to turn an area of up to 5 hectares adjacent to Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) into a zone offering multi-functional facilities for meetings and exhibitions, shops, accommodation, offices, and aviation-related business to “meet the needs of international business travelers.”

Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) told a press conference following the Cabinet meeting at which the proposal was approved by Premier Sean Chen that the airport was positioned to be “a capital’s business airport,” mainly serving international flights within the Asia-Pacific region and across the Taiwan Strait.

The proposal, coinitiated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and Taipei City Government, called for a public fund of NT$10 billion (US$342.18 million) for land acquisition, transportation upgrades and airport capacity expansion, and is expected to be completed in 2030.

The project aims to drive businesses to commit an investment of between NT$20 billion and NT$40 billion in urban renewal projects in the area and create 10,000 jobs, Ministry of Transportation and Communications Vice Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) both proposed that the airport be relocated outside the city, but the idea was rejected, Yeh said.

Based on “what I was told by many international business travelers,” Yeh said, the airport “stands a good chance” of becoming “the most convenient of international airports for visitors traveling around the world,” as a regional aviation hub, connecting four major cities — Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul.

The airport covers an area of 213 hectares and is used by civilian and military aircraft. It mostly handles domestic flights and resumed its function as an international airport when cross-strait flight services were launched in 2008, followed by direct flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo in 2010 and Gimpo Airport in Seoul this year.

At the Cabinet meeting, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) expressed the agency’s willingness to “minimize” military use of the airport, including a proposal to remove the Songshan Air Force Base, Cheng told the press conference.

Yeh said the MOTC was “thrilled” with Kao’s announcement because having the site of the air base included in the project would significantly enhance its development potential.