Starting today, more than half of the boarding gates at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport are to be closed as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp decline in passenger traffic at the nation’s largest airport, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Lin spoke to reporters about the ministry’s decision after attending a ceremony in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水) to mark the launch of the construction of the Tamkang Bridge (淡江大橋).
“Passenger arrivals at the airport have dropped below 1,000 per day. We have been renovating some of the airport’s facilities and would start closing some boarding gates. Passengers would enter and depart through designated gates, which will allow us to save on personnel and maintenance costs,” Lin said.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
Airport facilities that are under renovation include runways and taxiways, as well as restrooms, ceilings and floors inside the terminals, he said, adding that closing 20 of the 38 boarding gates would quicken the pace of renovations.
Asked why the ministry did not choose to close one terminal and leave the other one open, Lin said that shutting down one terminal would prevent airport employees from accessing facilities in the closed terminal.
Airport operator Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC) said that it would close boarding gates A1 to A5 and B1 to B5 in Terminal One, and C6 to C10 and D6 to D10 in Terminal Two, adding that these gates are located at the far ends of the two terminals.
The remaining 18 gates would function normally, it said.
Not only would the measure meet the current demand, but it would also allow the airport company to more easily adjust usage of the boarding gates, it said, adding that it is a better cost-saving measure than shutting down one of the terminals.
Lin added that the ministry has approved TIAC’s proposed changes to the design of Terminal Three and submitted the proposal to the Executive Yuan for final approval.
If approved by the Cabinet, TIAC would be able to place the project on a public tender by the end of this year, Lin said.
The company has also adjusted the budget for the Terminal Three project from a more practical perspective, Lin said, adding that the exact amount is still being calculated.
The company has kept the design of a cloud-shaped ceiling for the terminal and eliminated some of the more complex details, which would make the terminal easier to build and maintain, Lin said.
It would be the fourth time that TIAC would be placing the project for tender, as the three attempts last year failed to attract any bidders, despite an increase in construction budget.
Under the new proposal, the budget allocated for the Terminal Three and other peripheral constructions would be about NT$95 billion (US$3.15 billion), of which NT$53.7 billion would be used to build the terminal.
Terminal Three would be opened in three stages, with the north concourse scheduled to be completed by 2024, the company said.
The main terminal is scheduled to begin trial operation in 2025, and the south concourse is to be completed by 2026, it said.
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