A major day in Turkish aviation history occurred on Monday as the Istanbul New Airport opened for the first flights and passengers.
The date chosen was significant, marking Turkish National Day, and the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
Istanbul New Airport will ultimately take over from Ataturk Airport, which will close at the end of the year. The new facility will become the home of Turkish Airlines, however the secondary Sabiha Gokcen Airport will remain open as an alternative gateway to the city.
One of the benefits of the new airport is that it operates a single terminal, with all facilities close at hand. Yet it is built in an area with room to expand, and has the potential to add more runways and parking gates over time. It even has ambitions to become the world’s largest airport (but we’ve heard that from a lot of new facilities, so we’ll wait and see).
The opening ceremony held on 29 October saw President Erdogan arrive at the airport on his government Airbus A340 to greet thousands of people invited to the event.
Here’s a short news clip showing the event:
The airport in its initial phase has four parallel runways, and the terminal has a capacity of 90 million passengers per year. There’s also a cargo terminal.
Initially flights to Ankara, Antalya, Baku, Ercan, İzmir will begin on 1 November, operated by Turkish Airlines. Over the coming weeks, more destinations will be added as the transition from Ataturk is completed on 31 December 2018.
The megaproject will be launched in four phases with the final phase set to be complete in 2028. In all, the complex will occupy an area of 76.5 km2, boasting six runways, four terminals, 233 aircraft parking positions, more than 500 check-in desks, and 225,000 employees. Upon completion of the final phase, the largest international flight hub will incorporate offices, residences, hotels, a health center, culture and art buildings, a shopping mall, designer outlets, an EXPO convention center, and meeting and training facilities on site.
The airport is located to the north of the city (and Ataturk airport), and will eventually be linked via the Istanbul Metro.
At the opening ceremony, M. Ilker Ayci, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines commented, “Turkish Airlines starts an exciting new chapter today as we move to our new home at Istanbul Airport. The new hub of our national flag carrier plays an important role in Turkish Airlines’ future growth strategy and will offer a seamless experience to our passengers, international and domestic alike.”
Spotting opportunities at the new airport are not yet known, but I’ll be relying on you to report back once you’ve visited. I will also be planning to visit soon.
It will be a shame to lose the old spotting locations at Ataturk, but I’m hopeful there will be new opportunities here.