OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The opening of a new passenger terminal here was celebrated Sept. 27 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, Col. Bong-Wan Han, Construction Management Team chief, Defense Installation Agency, U.S. Forces Korea, and other distinguished visitors. Following the ceremony was a tour of the facility, which can accommodate 1,000 people and will see its first passengers next week with the arrival of the Oct. 4 Patriot Express flight.
General Allardice called the completion of the facility a symbol of the lasting partnership between the U.S. and ROK. Construction of the terminal began in April 2008 and involved numerous organizations from both nations, including the Hanjin Heavy Industrial & Construction Company, Army Corps of Engineers, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, 731st Air Mobility Squadron and 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Colonel Han echoed the sentiment. "Today I'm very pleased that construction of the terminal is complete," he said. "This project required close coordination between the ROK and U.S. for 33 months."
The new facility replaces a terminal that had been operating for 43 years, General Allardice said. "This world-class facility will be one that our families and military members will walk through with pride."
At least one Team Osan family member already agrees. After the ceremony, Mrs. Heidi Fox - whose husband is assigned to the 51st Maintenance Group - said, "This will be so much better for passengers... it's a beautiful facility and will make their transition to the base much smoother."
The two-story terminal is nearly five times larger than the old facility, covering nearly 82,000 square feet and including such features as a joint reception center, a departure lounge and a passenger service center. The building also utilizes the Collective Protection System, which shields those inside from effects of chemical weapons.
The new terminal and facilities will be utilized by the majority of U.S. servicemembers during Permanent Change of Station moves to and from the peninsula. When Patriot Express routes to Korea resumed in April after a five-year absence, Osan became a transportation hub for military members and their families. According to U.S. Forces Korea command policy letter #53-10, DoD policy states that PE will be the first order of precedence for official overseas travel unless there is a critical mission impact.
"Since the resumption of the Patriot Express, there has been a steady increase in the passenger utilization," said Maj. Ida Flores, USFK Patriot Express program manager. "We have also implemented a shuttle bus service from USAG Yongsan to Osan to accommodate the increase in passengers and our further plans outline similar shuttle service from Areas I and IV. The online customer survey has been refined with the intent to use the feedback to improve the Patriot Express - our passengers' feedback counts!"
Colonel Lionel Magee, USFK/CJ4 Transportation Division chief, added," The new passenger terminal is absolutely fantastic. It's nicer than many commercial stateside facilities. Coupled with the improvements we've made in shuttle transportation, this will go a long way to improving support for our servicemembers and their families and changing perceptions of PE."
But it's not just those on orders who will benefit from the new terminal - space-available travelers on PE and other flights will be just as impressed with the facility and its amenities. The 731st AMS provides information on space-available flights scheduled 72-hours in advance, and as it's not uncommon to see destinations in Guam, Hawaii, or Japan, space-available travel is popular at Osan. For more information, visit http://www.osan.af.mil/units/731stairmobilitysquadron.asp
or call (DSN) 784-1854.