Incheon Airport's Terminal 1 will undergo a 1.2 trillion won ($903 million) refurbishment starting from next year, the airport's operator said Wednesday.
Separately, it added that it would seek to attract Chinese travelers, whose travel demand is expected to surge amid China’s recent lifting of a group travel ban to South Korea.
“After conducting an open survey of Terminal 1’s facilities’ operational status, Incheon Airport will conduct a comprehensive repair of its facilities from April 2024 to June 2033,” said an official from Incheon Airport during a press conference.
The facilities that will get an upgrade include the terminal's ventilation systems, sanitary facilities and the cooling and heating systems.
It will also install new smoke control systems, fire shutters and earthquake-resistant devices throughout the airport to enhance safety.
The official said the facilities are considerably outdated and in due time for an upgrade.
“More than 20 years have gone by since Incheon Airport’s Terminal 1 was established. We found that 80 percent of the facilities (at Terminal 1) have either reached their end of life cycles or accumulated fatigue,” he said.
The airport operator expects the renovations to create 19,000 jobs and incur an economic trickle-down effect worth some 3.65 trillion won.
Meanwhile, Incheon Airport added it is also planning to devise a set of marketing strategies to attract Chinese travelers, following China’s decision to lift a group travel ban to Korea last month.
"The number of passengers using China-Korea routes for the first half of 2023 recovered by 23 percent compared to the number logged in the first half of 2019, which stood at 6.49 million. The recovery rate for passengers was much lower than we expected,” the official said.
In response, Incheon Airport will conduct joint marketing programs with airlines and duty free shops to spur inbound traveling, he said. Plans to invite Chinese travelers to K-pop concerts such as the Dream Concert are underway as well.
It also plans to kick off a "welcome week" from the last week of September to the first week of October, during which many Chinese are expected to travel during the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese National Day holiday season.
During that week, Incheon Airport will set up booths to hand out welcoming gift packs to inbound Chinese travelers.
"Chinese travelers are a key market and the top priority for the complete normalization of Incheon Airport," the official said.
“By 2024, we aim to boost our recovery rate of the number of passengers using China-Korea routes to 90 percent, compared to 2019."