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Incheon airport goes into 'emergency mode' as COVID-19 causes drop in users

National 20:13 March 26, 2020

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main air hub, went into "emergency mode" as the number of users nosedived amid the novel coronavirus outbreak that has spread around the world, the operator said Thursday.

The operator of the airport located in Incheon, 60 kilometers west of Seoul, said it is currently handling some 10,000 passengers per day, down from the normal 200,000 it processed before the pandemic paralyzed travel.

"An emergency situation room has been set up to monitor the situation, with management to come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce the fallout," Incheon International Airport Corp. (IIAC) said.

It said if the daily number of passengers drops to the 7,000-10,000 range, it will have to cut the departure areas that can be accessed and scale back the shuttle train services that ferry passengers out of the airport.

It said that in the event that travelers numbers drop to 3,000-7,000, it will shut down some terminals, while if this falls below the 3,000 mark, it will be forced to close most commercial facilities and greatly expand the number of areas that are closed to the public.

The airport authority said that it has taken steps to reduce the fees it charges to both airline and non-airline clients and has reduced rent for shops that operate inside the airport.

The airport, in addition, said it is planning to issue bonds worth over 970 billion won (US$790 million) to generate funds that can be used to build up the airports capacity down the road.

IIAC's senior managers have announced they will accept a 30-percent reduction in wages for the time being, to help cope with the situation.

A person arriving at Incheon Intrnational Airport, west of Seoul, goes to a "open walk thru" testing process to check for novel coronavirus infection, on March 26, 2020. The airport, South Korea's main air hub, has taken a severe hit as people avoid travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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