Airports in Asia

Having travelled around the region it comes as no surprise to find out that 6 of the top 10 airports in the world (Skytrax World Airport Awards 2010) are in Asia. Facilities are modern, infrastructure solid and connections excellent. They really can make their Western counterparts look extremely out of date. This article gives a bit of detail on 6 of the most innovative in the region. The 2011 results will be announced on 30th March 2011. The 2010 awards can be viewed by clicking here

Hong Kong International Airport

Or “Chep Lap Kok Airport” as it is sometimes known was completed in 1997 and has consistently been near or at the top of the world airport awards for more than a decade. Designed by Foster & Partners, the airport had the single largest airport terminal building for a number of years and has been much copied around the world since. The design is meant to be open and spacious and also extremely strong to cope with the typhoon winds that can hit Hong Kong. It is currently ranked as the world’s 13th busiest airport and there are future plans to expand with more terminal buildings and possibly a third runway. Connections to Hong Kong are quick with the Airport Express train travelling straight into Central in 23 minutes. Hong Kong International Airport will soon become even more well connected when the proposed Macau-Zhuhai-Hong Kong bridge is completed, providing a direct link to the gambling city.

Hong Kong Airportphoto © 2007 Sandip Bhattacharya | more info (via: Wylio)

Singapore Changi Airport

Changi Airport probably holds the title for most awards won for service excellence. In 2010 it was named Best Airport in the World. Consisting of 3 terminals it began operating in the 1980’s. Terminal 3 was designed by SOM and completed to much acclaim in 2008. The interesting thing about Changi Airport is that whilst the older terminals have been around for nearly 30 years, they have been regularly upgraded and modernised to stay at the cutting edge of airport design. The airport is also unique in having the first luxury airport terminal in Asia. It is well connected to the city’s MRT system and the location was chosen specifically for future expansion – there is the space for two further runways and terminal buildings as the airport grows.

Terminal 3 - Singapore Changi Airportphoto © 2008 Jorge Láscar | more info (via: Wylio)

Incheon International Airport

Located just outside Seoul in South Korea, the airport is the 11th busiest airport in the world for passengers. It opened in 2001 and includes a number of unusual design features. There is a golf course, casino and Museum of Korean Culture. In addition there is a striking Traffic Centre designed by Terry Farrell & Partners which sits atop the terminal building. Incheon is ranked 5 stars by Skytrax, the only airport alongside Hong Kong and Changi to receive this accolade. It has constantly vied with Changi for top spot in annual awards and is well known for it’s wide open spaces and easy navigation. A new rail link into Seoul Station is currently being completed and future expansion means that by 2020 the airport will have 4 runways, 2 terminals and the ability to handle 100 million passengers per year.

Edificephoto © 2010 Angelo Juan Ramos | more info (via: Wylio)

Kansai International Airport

Kansai hasn’t had an easy life. Built in the middle of Osaka Bay, it is unfortunately perhaps most famous for sinking at an alarming rate when first completed. In addition, the high costs of landing (second only to Narita in Tokyo) meant that along with local competition, the airport struggled financially. However, the innovative design makes it worthy of a mention – the terminal building, designed by Renzo Piano is more than 4,400 feet long. The design is meant to represent an aircraft wing and has won a number of design awards and is still one of the longest single buildings in the world. The airport currently has two runways with plans for a 2nd terminal on hold due to the financial crisis. Connected by rail and road links via a vast bridge to the mainland, if it weren’t for the slow uptake in use by the world’s airlines, Kansai would be one of the top airports in the world.

Kansai International Airport (KIX/RJBB)photo © 2006 Hideyuki KAMON | more info (via: Wylio)

Beijing Capital International Airport

The airport is currently the 3rd busiest in the world no doubt helped by the opening of the massive new Terminal 3 in 2008 in addition to the two existing terminals. T3 was designed by Foster & Partners and a collaboration of others and the striking 986,000 sqm of floor area has won a number of international design awards since opening. The terminal also boasts one of the world’s most complex luggage systems capable of getting bags to passengers within 5 minutes of unloading. The building is red, the Chinese colour for good luck and the space is flooded with natural light from the hundreds of windows and ceiling glass. There are plans to add satellites to Terminal 3 but expansion opportunities are limited. Therefore the government plans to build a 2nd airport for the city to be completed by 2015 to handle the continued growth in passenger numbers.

Beijing Airport ... one of the nicest I have been in.photo © 2009 Brandon Atkinson | more info (via: Wylio)

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

This airport was opened in 2006 to takeover from Don Mueang Airport where capacity had outgrown it’s expansion capability. The airport has the world’s tallest control tower at 434 feet and has one of the largest terminal buildings. Designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, the design is similar in nature to Hong Kong Airports with a lot of open space and natural lighting. Phase 1 of the airport has 2 runways and the main terminal building. Phase 2 plans to add a further 2 runways, another main terminal building and two satellite buildings. This will give it a capacity to handle more than 150 million passengers per year. Construction of this phase is expected within the next 5 years. The airport has recently crept into the top 10 of the 2010 World Airports Awards and remains one of the most modern and passenger friendly airports in the world.

Terminal F, Bangkok Airportphoto © 2009 Harald Hoyer | more info (via: Wylio)

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One Response to Airports in Asia

  1. Pingback: Normal posts will resume next week… « Ellicott Long's Blog

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