UP AND AWAY

Kuwait 2019 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

The Kuwait Incheon Airport Corporation is advising Kuwait on a new airport expansion, where convenience and safety are key.

Kwang-Soo Lee
BIOGRAPHY
Kwang-Soo Lee is the executive vice president of the Incheon Airport Corporation, where he has worked since 2005 in various capacities, including as the manager of commercial, planning, and marketing divisions. He is a 2007 graduate of the Yonsei University School of Business, where he earned a master’s of business administration. In 1984, he graduated from Korea Aerospace University.

What key factors ensured Incheon won the tender for the T4 terminal, and what challenges have you encountered thus far?

This tender was composed of performance and price. Incheon already has a great deal of knowledge in terms of airport performance and experience for airport operations. Our airport in Korea is already the number-one graded airport in the world. Currently, 70 million passengers use our airport without accident per year, and we maintain an extremely high service level. Therefore, we are already approved in many countries, and that is one factor. In addition, we were able to quote an extremely competitive price for this project. Our experience allowed us to narrow the focus points of the airport's operation. We simultaneously reduced costs and invested in improving our processes. In some respects, we were able to find ways to use the airport efficiently. This project will be a critical point for us. The T4 terminal operation can act as a base for us in this area, and it will be a great opportunity to prove that we can run an airport in this region. Even though it is a small terminal, we will do our best to operate it in a fast and convenient way. We already have experience in airports in the Philippines and Indonesia, and we are familiar with that area. For Kuwait, we will use our learnings from our operations in Erbil where we got to understand more about the culture in the Gulf. Kuwait is the next step on our journey in the region.

What practices are you using in the Incheon International airport that can be transferred to Kuwait's T4?

Operations are the same regardless of the size of the airport. In order to better understand the culture in the GCC, we have observed the Middle Eastern airports that are well performing, such as Dubai and Doha. However, we have noticed that in general, there are margins for improvement when it comes to the service quality within airport facilities in the region. That is why we draw special attention to the quality we can offer, as we are proud of our services. We want to transfer our service quality to the Middle East. We are confident that we can do that extremely well. We therefore want to channel our efforts on two important factors: convenience and safety. In the service area, we want to use our knowledge and share it with young Kuwaiti graduates. We want to offer a comprehensive training by sending our people to Korea in order for them to learn the different aspects of airport operations processes at our academy. They will also be provided with training oriented toward passenger services and operational safety. They will eventually complete a one to two months practice at Incheon Airport and learn many things from our experience and working environment. After three to five years, they will be experts in airport operations. We seek to train them to increase their service quality overall.

What are Incheon's key objectives for 2019?

Until the end of 2018, we were focused on expanding our operations to get all Kuwait Airways flights operating from T4. This means there will be more than 10,000 passengers departing and arriving from this terminal. Before, only about 60% of them operated there. We are also focused on solidifying the stable operations of all Kuwait Airways flights by establishing direct flights from Kuwait to the US by 2019. In addition, we want to change the aesthetic of the terminal in order for passengers to feel at home in the terminal. As mentioned, we also aim to improve the logistic of the facility by finding a way to process people faster.