Incheon International Airport to open Second Terminal by 2018

Recently I posted about the maglev train currently under construction at Incheon International Airport (referred to herein as Incheon Airport). This is only one part of the airport’s master plan to become the most efficient and environmentally friendly airport in the world. There is no doubt that Incheon Airport has already accomplished a number of its goals, recently deemed the “best airport worldwide in overall customer satisfaction” for the 7th year in a row by the Airports Council International. (I would like to add that Seoul Gimpo was also voted the best airport in the world for terminals serving 15-25 million passengers.)

Incheon Airport has a total of four phases of construction, the current phase being the third which is to be completed by 2017. Preparation for the third phase began in 2009 after phase two was completed in 2008 with the opening of a separate concourse which is accessible by underground shuttle train. One more runway was also built and currently the airport has three runways and one terminal. While Incheon Airport already claims to have the eighth highest international traffic in the world, it is still trying to catch up to the size and capacity of other top airports around the world. In this post I will outline some of the mean features of the third phase and what the airport looks to achieve by final completion.

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

Incheon International Airport Today – Click to view large image

The final design for Incheon’s second terminal was chosen in June last year as a terminal in the shape of two phoenixes designed by Heerim Architects and Planners, a symbol that was seen to represent both the airport and Korea well. Heerim is also responsible for designing a huge number projects around Korea and the rest of the world, including a number of stadiums for the upcoming Asia Games. According to Incheon Airport the new terminal will have automatic boarding systems so passengers can board aircraft faster and solar panels on the roof, a part of Incheon’s ongoing “green airport” campaign.

Construction is to begin sometime in 2013 and officially open for operations in 2018. The new terminal’s site area covers 110.5km² and the terminal building itself will be 35km², making up a total of 84.6km²  in passenger terminal space including the current facilities. An estimated 18 million passengers will use the new terminal annually, the currently facilities processing somewhere in the area of 33 million passengers per year. More facts and figures can be viewed through the links at the bottom of this page.

According to the Chosun Ilbo,  Asiana Airlines will move all of its operations to the new terminal once it is complete, while Korean Air will remain at Terminal 1. While the relocation of airlines is generally extremely expensive, because of the airline’s desire to move, it means Asiana can also take part in planning the interior for its customers. The newspaper also reported that there would be an underground link, most probably an extension of the current underground rail shuttle.

To view more designs, technical blueprints and structural details of the terminal, download the press pack from supporting design company Hugh Dutton Associates’s blog “Complexitys” using the ID and password provided.

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

Image: Hugh Dutton Associates

In February 2012, an investigation into the viability for an extension of the airport railroad to the future terminal was initiated. Though no plans are set in concrete at this stage, the map below marks the route the extension would potentially take, passing by the future second Business District in the north. The map also shows Incheon Airport’s planned final layout, note the five runways, one reserved specifically for cargo aircraft.

Incheon Airport Development Plan

Image: Ian Han

As this is long-term project, some details may change and any new developments or amendments will be added to this same page. A big thank you to Matt from Hamburg for requesting info on this project.



Sources and Links:

Incheon International AirportAirports Council InternationalFacts, Figures and History

Heerim Architects and Planners, Hugh Dutton Associates,  Design Credits, Gensler

Gyeongin IlboNikola’s Blog, Blog Containing Alternative Designs that were Showcased (Thanks to Matt)

About This Author

Originally from New Zealand, Andy moved to Korea in 2007 and very quickly became interested in the many different public transport and urban development projects around Korea. He currently lives in Sejong city and is particularly interested in rail projects, transport hubs and technology.


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  • OMG! Greatest news ever! As an aviation enthusiast and having been numerous time to ICN, I was looking forward to some news concerning the further expansion of the airport. Glad everything is now really set into motion.

    Now, it would be great if the new president could revamp the new Busan airport on an artificial island XD

    PearlMilkTea 6 years ago Reply

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, it’s going to be a long time waiting though!

      Andy Tebay 6 years ago Reply

  • Thanks from Hamburg for putting this project on your site!

    One small correction though: by the metric most commonly used to determine airport ranks, annual passengers, Incheon doesn’t make it to the top thirty (yet?!) – according to the most recent data available from the Airports Council International:
    – not sure where you got the eighth busiest from….

    Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some sleuthing myself and found this comprehensive review of the exhibition of most of the competition entries:
    Trying to go deeper from there by trying to find further infos on the websites of the losing bids’ architects has dumbfounded me, though….

    Matthias Moehring 6 years ago Reply

    • Hi Matt, thanks for suggesting it! :)
      I took the figure from Incheon Airport’s own stats about the airport here according to highest international passenger traffic-> I suppose the term “busy” can interpreted in many different ways, the same as various stats will be interpreted to give the highest number possible. I will try and find more information on where this number came from.

      Cheers for the link to that blog too, very interesting to see the alternatives. I will add it as a link above.

      Andy Tebay 6 years ago Reply

      • Lack of domestic/schengen-esque traffic like European airports and North America probably hurts the ranking of ICN.

        Shawn Ryu 4 years ago Reply

  • OMG, here’s that airport addict from Germany again…another weekend, another session of finding stuff about the new terminal on the web, this time a video about the retail plans:


    Matthias Moehring 6 years ago Reply

  • Groundbreaking for the first phase of this terminal took place today, September 26, 2013. The information provided by Incheon Airport on f’book shows just how small a portion of the competition-winning entry this first phase will be – interestingly, though, the areas earmarked for retail will be built out to their full size right from the word go – after all, Incheon is supposed to be among the top airports in the world for per-passenger-retail-spend…

    Matthias Moehring 4 years ago Reply

  • Dear all, does anyone know the total cost for each construction phase of Incheon? Tha k you.

    Joseph 3 years ago Reply

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