Gimpo International Airport
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|Gimpo International Airport
Gimpo Gukje Gonghang
Kimp'o Kukche Konghang
|IATA: GMP – ICAO: RKSS
– WMO: 47110
|Operator||Korea Airports Corporation|
|Location||Gangseo District, Seoul, South Korea|
|Elevation AMSL||58 ft / 18 m|
|Tonnes of cargo||248,736|
|Statistics from KAC|
Gimpo International Airport (Korean: 김포국제공항 [kimpʰoɡuktɕ͈eɡoŋhaŋ]), commonly known as Gimpo Airport (IATA: GMP, ICAO: RKSS) (formerly Kimpo International Airport), is located in the far western end of Seoul, some 15 km (9 mi) west of the Central District of Seoul. It was the main international airport for Seoul and South Korea before being replaced by Incheon International Airport in 2001. In 2013, 19,904,327 passengers used the airport, making it the third largest airport in Korea, as it has been surpassed by Jeju International Airport.
The airfield was originally constructed in 1939–1942 during the Japanese Imperial period.
North Korean forces attacked South Korea on 25 June 1950 starting the Korean War. During one of the first Korean People's Air Force (KPAF) attacks on 25 June a Military Air Transport Service C-54 Skymaster was destroyed on the ground at Kimpo. On 27 June US naval and air forces began evacuating 748 US diplomats, military dependents, and civilians by air transport from Kimpo and Suwon Airfield. On the afternoon of 27 June five F-82 Twin Mustangs of the 68th Fighter Squadron and 339th Fighter Squadron were escorting four C-54 Skymaster aircraft out of Kimpo when the C-54s were attacked by five KPAF Lavochkin La-7 fighters. In the subsequent dogfights three LA-7s were shot down for the loss of no US aircraft in the first air battle of the war. Later that day four F-80Cs of the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron shot down four Ilyushin Il-10s for no losses over Kimpo in the USAF's first jet-aircraft victory.
Kimpo was captured by the KPA shortly after the capture of Seoul on 28 June 1950. On 29 June eight B-29s of the 19th Bomb Group bombed Kimpo and the Seoul railyards. By July the KPAF were using the base for attacks on UN forces, on 10 July, seven Yak-7s were hidden at Kimpo and used in strikes against UN positions at Cheongju. The next day they surprised and damaged several F-80s in the area. On 15 July the US launched an attack on Kimpo, destroying two or three of the seven Yak-7s there and damaging the runway. On 5 August 5th Air Force fighters strafed and bombed Kimpo destroying 9 aircraft and damaging 9 others.
Following the Inchon landings on 15 September 1950, the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines was ordered to seize Kimpo on 17 September. Kimpo was defended by a conglomeration of half-trained fighting men and service forces and by the morning of 18 September the Marines had secured the airfield. The airfield was in excellent shape as the North Koreans had not had time to do any major demolition. On 19 September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repaired the local railroad up to eight miles (13 km) inland and 32 C-54 transport planes began flying in gasoline and ordnance. VMF-212 was one of the first units to operate from Kimpo before moving forward to Yonpo Airfield. On 25 September the 811th Engineer Aviation Battalion began repairing bomb damage on the 6,000 feet (1,800 m) asphalt runway at Kimpo and covering it with Marsden Matting. On 6 October the USAF took control of Kimpo from the USMC.
Following the Chinese Third Phase Campaign and the defeat of UN Forces at the 38th parallel, on 5 January 1951 General Ridgway ordered the evacuation of Seoul and the withdrawal of UN forces to a new defensive line along the 37th parallel. Units based at Kimpo were withdrawn to the south and facilities were destroyed to prevent their use by Chinese and North Korean forces.
UN Forces resumed the offensive again in late January 1951 and launched Operation Thunderbolt on 25 January with the aim of pushing Chinese and North Korean forces back north of the Han River. By 10 February 1951, UN forces once again had control of Kimpo.
USAF units based at Kimpo included:
- 4th Fighter Wing operating F-86s from 23 August 1951 – 1 October 1954, subordinate units included:
- 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing from 25 June-23 August 1951
- 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing from 10 October 1950 – 10 December 1950, subordinate units included:
- 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group from 20 August 1951 – 6 December 1954, subordinate units included:
- 68th Fighter Squadron operating F-82s from 30 November 1950 – March 1951 and 27 June–24 August 1951
- 80th Fighter Squadron operating P-51s from 27 October-20 December 1950
Other UN units based at Kimpo included:
Wreckage of a C-54 destroyed on the ground by KPAF fighters on 25 June 1950
Captured KPAF Ilyushin Il-10, 21 September 1950
In 1958 Kimpo was designated as the international airport of the South Korean capital city and has grown into a much more significant airport that is capable of handling 226,000 flights a year. The airport had one domestic and two international terminals before its international function was replaced by Incheon International Airport. Gimpo currently has two runways (3600 m×45 m & 3200 m×60 m), two passenger terminals, and one cargo terminal.
On 29 November 2003, scheduled services between Gimpo and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in Tokyo, Japan began. Services to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport started on 28 October 2007. Services to Kansai International Airport In Osaka, Japan started on 26 October 2008. Services to Beijing Capital International Airport started on 1 July 2011.
Airlines that formerly served Gimpo but no longer fly to Korea are listed: Air New Zealand, Alitalia, Ansett Australia (ceased operation), Continental Airlines (merged into United), Iberia Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Lauda Air (merged into Austrian Airlines), Qantas (now cargo only), Saudia, Swissair (ceased operation), VASP (ceased operation).
Airlines and destinations
Gimpo Airport primarily serves domestic and limited international flights to Japan, Taiwan, and China.
Traffic and statistics
In 2012, the ten carriers with the largest percentage of passengers flying into, out of, or through Gimpo International Airport are as follows:
|9||All Nippon Airways||545,250||545,250||2.81%|
The Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board (ARAIB) has its FDR/CVR Analysis and Wreckage Laboratory on the property of Gimpo International Airport. When the predecessor agency Korea Aviation Accident Investigation Board (KAIB) existed, its CVR/FDR and wreckage laboratory was located on the airport property.
Accidents and incidents
- On December 11, 1969, North Korean agent Cho Ch'ang-hǔi hijacked a Korean Air Lines YS-11 flying from Gangneung Airbase in Gangneung, Gangwon-do to Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. It was carrying four crewmembers and 46 passengers (excluding Cho); 39 of the passengers were returned two months later, but the crew and seven passengers remained in North Korea. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair on landing.
- On 20 April 1978, Korean Air Lines Flight 902 a Boeing 707 was shot down by the Soviet Air Force while flying from Paris, France to Anchorage, Alaska and continuing to Gimpo Airport. Two passengers were killed in the explosive decompression and the flight was able to land on a frozen lake where the remaining passengers and crew were transported to safety and then flown out of the Soviet Union back to South Korea
- On 19 November 1980, Korean Air Flight 015 landed short of the runway, ripping off all main landing gear, causing the aircraft to skid to a stop on the nose wheel and outer 2 engines starting a fire. 15 of the 226 total occupants were killed, including the First Officer and Captain.
- On 1 September 1983, Korean Air Lines 007 (a Boeing 747) bound for Seoul from New York City via Anchorage was shot down by a Soviet interceptor jet after pilot error drifted the plane into a restricted soviet air space, all passengers and crew on board were killed as the plane plummeted into the Sea of Japan and escalated tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
For many years, the airport was served by the Gimpo Line, a railway line that no longer exists. In the 1990s, Seoul Subway Line 5 was extended to Gimpo. On 23 March 2007, the AREX airport express line started operations to Incheon International Airport, with an extension to Seoul Station which opened in December 2010. Seoul Subway Line 9 also opened which links the airport to the Gangnam area.
- Gimpo International Airport. Airport.co.kr. Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
- Korean airport statistics
- "History Milestones Sunday, January 01, 1950 – Thursday, December 31, 1959". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 25 June 1950.
- "Valor Awards for James Walter Little". Gannett Company. 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Futrell, Robert F. (1997). The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950–1953. United States Government Printing Office. pp. 99–101. ISBN 9780160488795.
- Futrell, p.102
- Hoyt, Edwin P. (1984). On to the Yalu. Stein and Day. p. 58. ISBN 0812829778.
- Hoyt, p.61
- Futrell, p.178-9
- Futrell, p.293
- • Gimpo-Beijing air route to open in July. South Korea News (26 April 2011). Retrieved on 12 July 2013.
- "Office Location." (Archive) Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board. Retrieved on 15 February 2012. "CVR/FDR analysis and wreckage laboratory : Gimpo International Airport 274 Gwahae-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, Korea 157–711"
- "KAIB/AAR F0201." Korea Aviation Accident Investigation Board. 4/168. Retrieved on 18 June 2009. "The main office is located near Gimpo International Airport, and the flight recorder analysis and wreckage laboratories are located inside the airport."
- Aircraft accident Boeing 747-2B5B HL7445 Seoul-Gimpo (Kimpo) International Airport
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