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1st Flight at New S. Korea Airport

March 29, 2001

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INCHEON, South Korea (AP) _ An Asiana Airlines passenger jet landed Thursday at Incheon International Airport on Thursday, the first flight into a new airport South Korea hopes will become a regional traffic hub.

The Incheon airport, 35 miles west of Seoul, replaces the capital’s congested Gimpo Airport as the new gateway for international flights to South Korea. Gimpo will still be used for domestic flights.

South Korean officials say the new $5.5 billion airport is within 3 1/2 hours flying time of 43 cities with populations of more than 1 million. The $5.5 billion airport is designed to handle 27 million passengers a year, and officials plan to expand its annual capacity to 100 million passengers by 2020.

But there are concerns that potential problems with ground transport and baggage may cause long delays for passengers. Incheon’s computerized baggage-handling system has not operated properly in test runs, and a taxi ride into downtown Seoul will cost about twice as much as from Gimpo Cheaper rail service will not be available until 2005.

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