Airport plan may lift economy: minister

AIRPORT OF BUSINESS:A project planned to enhance Songshan airport’s status as the capital’s business airport could attract foreign businesses to Taipei, a minister said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Page 4

A proposal to turn 5 hectares of land next to Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) into an industry “corridor” offering multi-functional facilities could bring enormous economic benefits to the country, Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday.

Yeh made the remarks during an investment promotion meeting held by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) in Taipei, which was also attended by representatives of about 100 domestic and foreign businesses.

Domestic firms present at the meeting included Mega Financial Holdings, Nan Shan Life Insurance, Fubon Life Insurance, Far Eastern Department Stores, China Airlines, EVA Airways, Prince Housing and Development and Huafu Development.

A number of overseas real-estate consultancy companies and architectural firms from Hong Kong, Japan and the US, as well as representatives from the French Office in Taipei, the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei and International Enterprise Singapore also attended the meeting.

Yeh said the project could yield revenues of NT$100 billion (US$3.33 billion).

“The development project will require between NT$30 billion and NT$40 billion in private funding and will not exclude investments from China. Based on rough estimates, the project could generate as much as NT$100 billion in economic benefits and help create up to 10,000 jobs,” Yeh said, adding that the project has been made a top priority in the Executive Yuan-initiated “Economic Power-up Plan.”

Comparing the airport to other capital-city airports in the region, Yeh said Taipei airport’s prime location gave it the same geographical edge and economic potential as that enjoyed by Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport.

The ministry expects the development project will attract more domestic and foreign businesses to locate their operations or headquarters in Taipei, Yeh said, which could also help boost the economy.

According to initial planning by the CAA, the development will be outsourced to the private sector under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) mechanism and will require public funds of NT$10 billion for land acquisition, transportation upgrades and airport capacity expansion.

The project will divide a 5 hectare area into three sections, which would be transformed into a zone offering multiple facilities for meetings and exhibitions, shops, accommodation, offices and aviation-related businesses.

The airport’s current 2.83 hectare parking space is to be moved underground to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment.

Contractors may also develop other lines of business, ranging from shopping centers, restaurants and tourism to financial insurance, healthcare and entertainment, the administration said, adding that the investment invitation phase of the project is expected to be complete within two years.

Meanwhile, the administration and its parking lots and tennis club, a National Fire Agency office, Sunrise Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Far Eastern Air Transport and its Taipei-based office, as well as China Airlines’ training and crew centers are to be relocated to make way for the planned development.

Investors plan to construct a new CAA office on a plot of military land on the intersection of Guangfu N Road and Fujin Street.