Work began Thursday on a second passenger terminal at Incheon International Airport as competition for the regional travel hub heats up.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will spend W4.93 trillion (US$1=W1,075) on the additional seven-story terminal with a total area of 384,000 sq.m -- the size of 53 soccer fields.
It hopes the terminal will be completed in 2017.
Once it is built, the airport will be able to handle 62 million passengers and 5.8 million tons of cargo per year, up from 44 million passengers and 4.5 million tons of cargo at present.
Incheon airport has won various service awards but is much smaller than rival airports. Its passenger capacity is less than that of Beijing Capital International Airport (95 million passengers), Shanghai's Pudong International Airport (60 million), Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok and Singapore's Changi (68.7 million), and similar to that of Tokyo's Narita International Airport (42 million).
In terms of international passenger capacity, Incheon ranks seventh in the world behind Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and Germany's Frankfurt Main Airport. "When the second passenger terminal is completed, the airport's capacity will be one of the world's top five," said a ministry official.