Relocate Taipei airport, DPP legislator urges

DIFFERENT VISIONS::Pasuya Yao says the space could become a riverside park, but officials say that merging it with Taoyuan airport would be difficult

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) voiced his opposition to the Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) development project on Friday and demanded that the airport be relocated, a task transportation officials said would be very difficult to achieve.

At a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan, Yao spelled out his opposition to the plan, which calls for transforming the facility into a business airport bordered by a planned “commercial corridor” with hotels, a convention center and shopping malls.

Yao suggested that the airport be relocated so that a riverside park can be developed on the land along the Keelung River (基隆河).

More green space in the urban area would not only reduce the “heat island effect” in the city, but also expand the space city residents have to engage in leisure activities, he said.

A river wharf could also be built as part of the city’s efforts to rehabilitate the Tamsui River (淡水河) and Keelung River that run through Taipei, transforming the airport into a river port, he said.

As part of the plan, urban renewal and the revival of businesses in the old town on the right bank of the Tamsui River would gain new momentum with just some planning and additional infrastructure, Yao said.

Chen Chin-sheng (陳進生), deputy director of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Department of Navigation and Aviation, said that Yao’s proposal would be hard to achieve.

Chen said his agency had assessed the possibility of merging the city airport with Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan County, the country’s main international gateway, and found it would be a very challenging task.

Taipei airport plays a different role than Taoyuan airport, serving as a hub for domestic, Northeast Asian and cross-strait flights that serve about 6.5 million people living in the greater Taipei area, Chen said.

It is positioned as a small, but fully functional capital city airport, while Taoyuan airport is defined as a multi-dimensional facility providing international and regional flight services, Chen said, describing the two airports as “complementary.”

That means transforming Songshan into a capital city business airport is “the best option so far identified by the ministry,” Chen said.