Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially opened the first phase of the new Istanbul Airport (as it is now officially called) on 29 October – Turkish National Day, and the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
The first phase was completed in 42 months and consists of the main terminal building, two runways, an air traffic control tower, and supporting buildings.
“The Istanbul Airport, with its architecture, construction, operation and financing, is a project which is a source of pride for Turkey and sets an example to the world,” President Erdoğan said.
Underlining that Turkey, Istanbul in particular, has always been at an important strategic location, President Erdoğan stated: “Turkey, with Istanbul Airport going into service, has become the most important transit hub between north-south and east-west axes. The Istanbul Airport connects 60 countries and $20-trillion economies across the vast area it serves.”
President Erdoğan further stressed: “With Istanbul Airport going into service, the European air space will need to be restructured. Istanbul will now become the major transfer hub, which will greatly change the intercontinental flight routes.”
Among those assembled to hear the President officially launch the new mega-hub were the leaders of over 10 countries and 50 other ministers and senior officials drawn from other nations with important business relations to the new airport.
Turkish Airlines launches first services from new Istanbul Airport
The new Istanbul Airport welcomed its first flights on 31 October, with Turkish Airlines beginning services to Ankara and Ercan (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). Two further domestic links were introduced on 1 November and the airport’s first international flight is due to commence on 8 November, when the airline begins services to Baku in Azerbaijan. All five routes will be served daily until 31 December.
The main transition of services from Atatürk to the new Istanbul Airport is due to start on 30 December and be completed on 31 December. Until that date, the new airport will operate under the IATA code of ISL. When all operations have transferred, it will assume Atatürk’s current IST code.
“While Istanbul Airport is the new home of Turkish Airlines’ global hub, we have also received significant interest from other airlines on the possibilities of launching new routes and frequencies, especially because of the ease of access created by a dramatic increase in slots availability – within 16 months we’ll have a third runway, doubling the airside capacity over the existing airport,” said Kadri Samsunlu, CEO of İGA Airport Operation.
Because Istanbul Airport is the first entirely new global hub to be created in the 21st century, Samsunlu said it benefits from “the best-available technologies, a hugely efficient passenger experience, and represents a global aviation technology incubator in its own right”.
To support this aim, in October İGA established İGA Systems Company to provide the infrastructure for Istanbul Airport, which will serve as a technology base to drive the airport’s ambitions to be one of the smartest airports in the world. İGA Systems will undertake the design, installation, integration, and implementation operations at Istanbul Airport.
After the full end-year transfer of the Turkish Airlines hub, and all other airline services, Istanbul Airport will be capable of processing 90 million passengers, later rising to 200 million passengers, and upwards of 350 destinations. With the completion of all phases in 2025, Istanbul Airport will be a six-runway facility.