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Environment ministry OKs new int'l airport on Jeju Island

All News 16:59 March 06, 2023

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- The environment ministry has approved a proposal to construct a new international airport on Jeju Island, officials said Monday, after a yearslong conflict over the potential impact on the island's pristine natural environment.

In 2015, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced the selection of a 5.45 million-square-meter lot in Seongsan on the southern resort island's eastern side as the site for the second airport.

After rejecting four previous environmental assessment reports, the Ministry of Environment has granted a conditional approval to the transport ministry's plan, saying the site has met the relevant requirement.

The proposal, however, still needs further evaluation by the provincial government of Jeju.

The ministry said the transport ministry's proposal has presented ways to protect local birds and their natural habitats. However, the ministry ordered a further explanation on how to secure the safety of airplanes from bird strikes.

The environment ministry also urged the land ministry to reflect the opinion of Jeju residents for potential cases of noise pollution coming from the planes in flight.

The environment ministry also presented a plan to migrate the island's two indigenous animals -- narrow-mouthed frogs and small cuckoos -- that are listed as endangered species.

The land ministry is scheduled to make the proposal to the public, which will have 14 or more days to submit their opinions.

The plan for the second international airport has been delayed for years in the face of strong resistance from residents and environmental activists.

Calls for the new airport that could handle 25 million passengers annually have been made as the existing Jeju International Airport, the gateway to the nation's top holiday destination, has reached saturation.

Bad weather conditions, such as strong wind, are also cited as one of the reasons for frequent delays and cancellations.

The annual number of aircraft takeoffs and landings at Jeju International Airport came to 169,624 last year, compared with its capacity of 172,000. Its passenger terminal came to 29.7 million last year, outnumbering the 25.91 million annual passengers it was built for.

A total of 3,337 flights at Jeju International Airport were either delayed or canceled in January, far above 2,553 flights at Gimpo International Airport, just west of Seoul.

Environment ministry OKs new int'l airport on Jeju Island - 1


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