Introducing the “Airport Economic Zone”

“What is the Airport Economic Zone?”

This is a question you may have if you have never heard of this term. It includes the word “economic,” which makes it sound difficult to understand. However, it is actually not difficult to understand at all!

This term captures Incheon Airport’s great potential and possibility. It is a fact that understanding this term will broaden your insight into the airport industry.

In this post, we will take a look at what the Airport Economic Zone is and how Airport Economic Zone is related to Incheon Airport!

What is the Airport Economic Zone?

Numerous things are needed to run an airport well, and these things should all interact with each other and be constantly moving.

To begin with, we need airlines to transport passengers and cargo. But what about the airplanes that are owned by airlines? They require strict maintenance to ensure safety for every flight. We also need a variety of commercial stores that passengers can enjoy while waiting for their flight, and employees to run these stores. As many as 70,000 people work in Incheon Airport. To transport cargo well, we need a logistics park in which hundreds of companies are located.

Everything we mentioned above is only what is required for an airport – not to mention needs for various means of transportation to allow people visiting the airport to travel around the country easily. We need accommodations like hotels where visitors can stay and relax and infrastructure for meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE). Tourist attractions that visitors can check out during their spare time would be icing on the cake.

Now, can you see the necessary facilities, services, and businesses expanding one by one from the airport like an ecosystem? This economic ecosystem surrounding the airport with the addition of infrastructure, related economic activities, and global business environments is referred to as the “Airport Economic Zone.”

You can understand it as the “economic zone around the airport.” It refers to a very large economic zone in which various industries related to the airport are integrated and combined such as aviation, logistics, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), tourism.

It is an economic zone with synergy, which includes hinterland in which an ecosystem of complementary industries is established and related economic activities are conducted, through the establishment of an ecosystem for various economic activities with network connections and accessibility to the airport.

Scene in the Airport Economic Zone

For those of you who still can’t fully wrap your head around it, let us show you a scene to demonstrate how the Airport Economic Zone works in practice. This is the schedule of Tom, an American who comes to Korea for business.

[DAY 1]

Tom unpacks in a five-star hotel that is located 10 minutes from Incheon Airport and heads out to a meeting place. He goes to a MRO company in Global Airport Town north of Terminal 1 to sign a contract for the purchase of aircraft maintenance parts. After successfully signing the contract, he comes back to his room and buys gifts for his family in a shopping mall located 5 minutes away by foot.


[DAY 2]

The next day, Tom has a meeting with a sales manager from a global firm based in the Global Shipment Center, Phase 3 Logis Park. After wrapping up his morning meeting, Tom wants to spend the afternoon a little differently. He visits the Water Leisure Park near Terminal 1 with the manager. He enjoys the beautiful waterside park and has a great time in the water leisure sports experience space. In the evening, he enjoys a traditional Korean course dinner at the Traditional Culture Park, relaxes at the spa, and calls it a day.

[DAY 3]

3 days have flown by. Tom has 5 hours left before boarding. It would be a shame to waste such time. Tom goes to the multipurpose performance theater Arena Hall in the Landmark Complex, which is located 10 minutes away from the terminal, because he heard that his favorite Korean and British bands would be performing together here. After doing everything with a minimal travel time during his stay in Korea, he boards the perfectly maintained aircraft.

Does Tom in this scene help you imagine the significance of the Airport Economic Zone? If the Airport Economic Zone is properly implemented around Incheon Airport, any activity or business can be fit into your itinerary. You can understand that as Airport Economic Zone has a greater impact as Tom’s schedule is more filled, satisfactory, and broader in scope!

Incheon Airport, Changing the Airport's Paradigm

Incheon Airport is expanding its presence in the center of the Airport Economic Zone. It is never fully satisfied with its global standing, constantly reinventing itself to make new history. The changes in Incheon Airport can be largely divided into 3 paradigms. Let’s take a look at how Incheon Airport has evolved from the 1st generation to the 3rd generation.

1st Generation Airport

Incheon Airport focuses on building infrastructure for aircraft takeoff and landing and establishes convenience and commercial facilities in the passenger terminal.

2nd Generation Airport

Incheon Airport develops into a cultural space with leisure and entertainment (Airport City) by combining shipping, shopping, and business.

3rd Generation Airport

Various economic activities occur centered around Incheon Airport, investment environments are established, and new value is created. The airport serves as an industrial hub based on global accessibility as well as a hub of economic activities that have expanded to hinterland.

Incheon Airport is evolving into a 3rd generation airport! Incheon Airport is currently trying to become the center of the airport industry ecosystem as a 3rd generation airport. What makes this possible? The Airport Economic Zone!

Incheon Airport’s Scale Compared to Other Airports Abroad

There are so many airports around the world. You may be wondering what other airports have been up to. Below are some recent trends in other airports in the Netherlands, the US, France, and China.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Netherlands

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol established an airport economic zone after the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, the City of Amsterdam, the Province of Noord-Holland, and Schiphol Group contributed 25% of the funds each to establish Schiphol Area Development Company (SADC).

Memphis International Airport, the US

Memphis International Airport used FedEx World Hub as an anchor to establish FedEx Cold Chain Center, cargo processing facilities, and logistic park hinterland. 130 global companies from 22 countries are located here, creating jobs. This case is regarded as one of the most successful airport economic zones.

Paris-Charles De Gaulle, France & Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport, China

Paris-Charles De Gaulle in France and Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport in China also built industrial parks and complex facilities and produced significant results under the names of “Airport City Project” and “Airport Economic Zone,” respectively.

“How is Incheon Airport’s economic zone different from that of other foreign airports?”

Its scale!

“Incheon Airport is the world’s first airport to approach the concept as an economic zone.”

Many other airports developed logistics pubs, headquarters of global firms, R&D clusters related to aviation, and education and training parks in the areas surrounding airport functions.

What differentiates Incheon Airport from others is that it does not simply develop its surrounding areas, but aims for a larger economic project, which encompasses not just Yeongjongdo and Incheon as a hinterland economic zone spatially but also, ultimately, all of Korea. That is to say, its scale is different.

Its scale is massive, so it will have a huge impact on the country’s economy. Right? Collaboration between stakeholders such as the central government, local governments, businesses, and institutions will be more sophisticated and delicate for the project. As the airport is preparing for this huge project, we look forward to the future it will create!

Today, we have looked at the basic concept of the Airport Economic Zone, and Incheon Airport located in the center of this zone. In the next post, we will examine in more detail the specific vision that Incheon Airport is picturing and implementing for Airport Economic Zone!

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