Incheon's transit traffic dips as North Asia airports compete

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Incheon airport has seen a slight dip in its transit traffic this year, due to strong competition from other airports in North Asia.

Speaking to Flightglobal on the sidelines of the ACI Annual General Assembly in Seoul, its executive director of planning & coordination Lee Kwang-Soo says the airport handled 7.6 million transit passengers in 2013, or about 19% of its total traffic. This year however, the percentage of transit traffic has dropped to 18.3%.

Lee attributes this to increased competition from neighbours such as Tokyo Haneda airport, which has seen a major increase in international services.

Chinese airlines and airports in Beijing and Shanghai are also offering more direct services connecting China to the US and Europe, thus reducing the number of passengers transiting at Incheon, says Lee.

“HKIA, Changi and Schiphol have increased passenger numbers by inducing transit passengers. We do know the limitations of depending on Koreans to go abroad, thus we’re portraying Incheon as the hub airport of North East Asia,” he adds.

Incheon's strategy for becoming a transit hub is focused on enhancing its network and making the airport the most convenient and comfortable for passengers coming through.

Incheon handled 41 million passengers in 2013, and is expecting to hit 44 million this year.