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Pyongyang Sunan International Airport

Pyongyang International Airport is the largest airport in Korea. Pyongyang International Airport/Pyongyang Sunan International Airport has IATA code FNJ, ICAO ZKPY. In recent years, Pyongyang Sunan International Airport (FNJ) has expanded to be able to receive international travelers who want to experience North Korean culture and see sights that were originally unavailable to outsiders.

While many airports of the developing world especially in Asia can be awful, hot, sticky, dirty, disorganised places, Pyongyangs airport is all bells and whistles with its newly renovated, sparkling terminals. This airport, like most of the DPRK, is spotless and has all the basic amenities one might need during a quick visit. And while many of the DPRKs finest construction projects still seem to having something a little bit off about them, Pyongyang Airport impressively lacks this aesthetic oddness in its construction. Pyongyang Airport consists of two terminal buildings: international and domestic which sit adjacent to each other, with a corridor of various shops connecting them.

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, provided field guidance to the construction site of Pyongyang International Airport on 01 November 2014: "Defects were manifested in the last phase of the construction of the Terminal 2 because the designers failed to bear in mind the party's idea of architectural beauty that it is the life and soul and core in architecture to preserve the Juche character and national identity", he said, and went on: "When we build even a single structure, we should do in such a way as to ensure that our style, our characteristic feature and national identity are preserved. It is necessary to finish the construction of the terminal to be an icon of Songun Korea, the face of the country and the gateway to Pyongyang and properly distribute service network and facilities and build them to be impeccable so that they may provide the best convenience to the passengers".

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, together with Ri Sol Ju gave field guidance on 25 June 2015 to the Terminal of Pyongyang International Airport which was successfully completed. He commanded a bird's-eye view of the terminal from his plane. Saying that Pyongyang International Airport was well built in a neat and fashionable manner, he set forth the tasks for radically changing the looks of its area in harmony with the modern terminal.

He stressed that the looks of the vicinity of the airport, including the areas of Sunan District and Thaekam Farm, should undergo a dramatic change as befitting the gateway to the capital city of Pyongyang, under the Party's master plan for the development of the airport area, and high-speed railways and motorway from the airport to the city center should be built to ensure smooth traffic.

The terminal was built in a modern way from the gatepost to the airport to departure lounge, entry formalities hall, service halls, etc and it has various kinds of service networks necessary for business, public catering, information and medical treatment and all other amenities. A ceremony for opening the terminal took place on 01 July 2015. Present there were Pak Pong Ju, Pak Yong Sik, Ro Tu Chol, officers of units who took part in the construction, soldier-builders, officials in relevant field, employees and their families, officials of commissions, ministries and national institutions who contributed to the construction, officials and other people in Sunan District.

Pak Pong Ju, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and premier of the DPRK, made an opening speech. The terminal is "an iconic edifice in the Songun era and the proud result brought about by the army and people's devoted fighting spirit, great army-people unity and hot wind of creating a new Korean speed", he noted.

A VIP lounge is available for travelers seeking the comfort of a lounge to await boarding. Access is restricted to business and first class travelers of some airlines, to access card holders and to passengers paying a one-time subscription fee. Access to wifi, to self-service computers, to bar / snack, to television and to international press allows guests to spend a pleasant moment before takeoff.

Pyongyang Sunan International Airport Pyongyang Sunan International Airport Pyongyang Sunan International Airport Pyongyang Sunan International Airport Pyongyang Sunan International Airport

Several features of this airport are worthy of note, surely the most obvious is the second runway, to the immediate North of the original Southern runway, to which it is attached by a taxiway. The construction sequence of the two is inferred from the fact that terminal facilities are associated with the Southern runway while none are present adjacent to the longer North runway.

There are several reasons airports may have multiple runways. Airports with high traffic densities may require multiple runways to accomodate many nearly simultaneous takeoff and landing operations. But Air Koryo flies no more than a few times each day, and foreign carrier operations appear equally sparse. The newer North runway was not needed to accomodate a heavy traffic load. Other airports may have multiple runways to accomodate prevailing wind patters, giving pilots the opportunity to fly with the most favoable winds, rather than having to fight crosswinds. Washington National Airport is one good example of such a layout, and others such sa LaGuardia come to mind. But Pyongyang's North and South runways are both in similar North-Sough directions, providing no help against cross winds.

The North runway is long, roughly 12,500 feet or 3,800 meters. The Southern runway is no slouch, soming in at around 10,000 feet or 3,200 meters. But 12,500 is pretty close to the upper limit on runways, and an airplane that needs more than 12,500 feet to take off probably cannot take off under any circumstances. Such long runways are normally associated with very large or heavily loaded aircraft that need extra time and runway to get up to takeoff speed.

Another oddity of the Pyongyang airport is the military side, located on the Western side of the main Southern runway, somewhat to the North of the civilian side of the field, which is on the Eastern side of the Southern runway. Such a bifurcation is frequently encountered, and it in and of itself unremarkable. What is remarkable is that the official airport website helpfully annotates parts of the military side as "Restricted R&D military [sic] area" and " Missile launcher area". It is strange that the normally secretive North Korean's would provide such revealing and candid labels.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:42:45 ZULU