Monday, February 9, 2009

No passengers for 3 mths

SEOUL - A US$260 million (S$390 million) South Korean airport has become a 'ghost airport' with not a single passenger in the past three months, officials and a news report said on Monday.

Yangyang International Airport on the east coast handled its last flight on Nov 1, the Korea Airport Corporation said.

The state firm admitted that last year 146 airport staff served only a daily average of 26 passengers at the seven-year-old airport.

The airport, built with a government budget of 356.7 billion won (S$390 million) to promote regional tourism, has posted a deficit of more than 10 billion won each year for three consecutive years, it said.

The corporation estimated that 11 out of 14 local airports around the country posted a deficit last year.

The conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper on Monday termed Yangyang a 'ghost airport'. It blamed 'incompetent planning and administration' by previous liberal governments and said the airports should either be shut down or privatised.

Korea Airport Corporation spokesman Park Soon-Cheon told AFP construction had been suspended at two other airport projects, Uljin in the south-eastern province of North Gyeongsang and Gimje in the south-western province of North Jeolla.

Authorities are considering turning Uljin, which is 85 per cent completed at a cost of US$141 million, into a pilot training centre, he added. -- AFP

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