THE Taiwanese government has given the green light to transform Taoyuan International Airport into a regional aviation centre as the facility struggles to cope with increased passenger traffic in recent years.
International news agency AFP reported that the new ‘aerotropolis’ will span almost 7,000 hectares, and feature a free trade zone, a third terminal at the airport and an industrial park for goods distribution and aviation-related industries.
The head of Taoyuan county government, Wu Chih-yang, was quoted by the agency as estimating that up to NT$500 billion (US$16.5 billion) will go into the development, creating some 260,000 jobs.
Plans to turn Taoyuan airport into a regional hub were first raised in the 1990s by the Kuomintang party but progress halted after the party lost power, returning to the table only with the Kuomintang’s rise in recent times.
Taipei’s main airport now faces difficulties in managing increased passenger traffic as tourist numbers from China surge, with 2.9 million Chinese making their way to Taiwan last year, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year.
AFP stated that a third runway for the airport has been scheduled to open in 2020, 10 years ahead of the original date planned.
Passenger capacity is expected to reach 60 million annually by 2030, said the same report.