Istanbul Opens Mega-Airport!

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially opened Istanbul’s new airport on Monday this week to coincide with the 95th anniversary of modern Turkey’s foundation, and the associated public holiday, Republic Day.

Istanbul Airport will be capable of handling up to 90 million passengers by 2021, with further expansion leading to a total capacity of up to 200 million. That would be almost double the capacity of the world’s busiest airport last year, Atlanta.

But the opening was largely symbolic, as only a handful of flights will begin to operate in its first week. Istanbul’s existing Ataturk Airport will continue to operate as normal until the end of this year, when it will transfer its IATA airport code (IST) as its replacement begins to ramp up its capacity.

Turkish authorities plan to move all operations from one airport (Ataturk) to Istanbul New Airport in the space of a day – currently scheduled for the end of December. After that point, Ataturk airport will be closed to passenger traffic, but continue as a private airfield until its current lease expires in 2021.

Istanbul’s other, smaller airport, Sabiha Gokcen, is expected to remain operational into the foreseeable future. Lastly, a few facts and figures about Istanbul New Airport:

  • 6 runways
  • 16 taxiways
  • 150 million annual passenger capacity – expandable to 200 million
  • 1,500,000 m2 (16,000,000 sq ft) indoor area
  • 165 aircraft jet bridges
  • 4 terminal buildings, with rail access between terminals