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Penghu crash revives Taipei airport debate
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-26 04:04 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The death of 48 passengers and crew members in the crash of a TransAsia Airways flight in Penghu has led to new calls for the closure of Taipei Songshan Airport.

The issue already featured prominently in the campaign for the 2002 Taipei City mayoral election when opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lee Ying-yuan proposed to replace the airport with a huge park.

With mayoral elections scheduled for November 29, the fate of the urban airport has come to the fore again.

Opposition candidate Ko Wen-je said he wanted work on a third terminal and a third runway at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to be speeded up in order to allow the removal of Taipei Songshan Airport in 2018 at the latest. A campaign spokeswoman said that an accident at the airport might be unavoidable, and that residents within a distance of two to three kilometers could be at risk.

Ruling Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien said the closure of the capital’s airport was difficult to achieve within the near future, while incumbent Mayor Hau Lung-bin said he had no plans to close the airport down before he left office in December.

Lien’s spokesman said that it would be difficult for Taoyuan to fill all air travel needs for all of northern Taiwan within the next decade. Songshan filled a key economic role which was hard to In any event, each airport needed to consider reliable safety and environmental protection procedures, he said.

Songshan used to serve as the capital’s domestic airport, but the opening over the past few years to direct flights to and from China and the expansion of domestic airlines to serve Japan and Southeast Asian destinations has raised traffic. Each day, 163 flights land or depart from Songshan, reports said.

Campaigners for the removal of the airport say the rising amount of traffic has been causing more environmental problems and made life for area residents more difficult, with noise and pollution occurring for a longer time.

Other residents felt the airport had a positive effect on living standards in the neighborhood because it brought in new business, reports said.

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