South Korea’s National Assembly has approved a bill to build a new airport in the second-biggest South Korean city of Busan.
The multibillion-dollar state airport on Gadeok Island, the biggest island of Busan, will be able to handle growing air traffic demand and facilitate prosperity in the country’s southeast region, according to a statement from the Yonhap News Agency.
The bill is controversial owing to its proposal to provide a special exemption for the compulsory preliminary feasibility study for the construction project, if necessary, and streamline the process of another follow-up feasibility study in a bid to expedite the envisioned airport’s construction.
The project is part of South Korea’s more than a decade-old debate on expanding air travel infrastructure in the southeast region, which encompasses such prosperous cities as Busan and Ulsan.
The liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration (2003-2008) first proposed the construction project to disperse the growing air traffic to and from Gimhae International Airport in Busan. Gimhae was the only international airport in the region and was said to be almost at capacity.
The conservative Park Geun-hye government (2013-2017) pushed for a project that would expand the existing Gimhae Airport in Busan. However, a state committee under the current Moon Jae-in administration virtually aborted it in November 2020 after reviewing its feasibility.
Spurred by the decision, ruling Democratic Party lawmakers proposed constructing a new airport on Gadeok and have pushed to expedite the project, with a goal to put the airport into operation before 2030.