World’s largest airport to take off in 2023

Dr Genç ... growing demand in travellers

AMBITIOUS plans are coming to life in Istanbul as work begins on the Istanbul New Airport, which is set to become the world’s largest airport with a capacity of 150 million passengers a year.

The airport will be built in four stages, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2017. Even once its first phase is completed, Istanbul New Airport is expected to be the third largest airport in the world with an annual capacity of 90 million passengers, behind Atlanta in the US and China’s Beijing.

Once completed in 2023, the Istanbul New Airport will boast a total of six runways. It will cover 77 million sq m and is expected to cost nearly $6 billion to build. UK-based engineering firm Arup will lead the masterplan development, working with the Turkish consortium of Cengiz, Mapa, Limak, Kolin and Kalyon, who won the 25-year concession to build and operate the airport in May 2013. Oslo-based architects Nordic Office of Architecture will design the new airport buildings.

At present, Istanbul has two airports in operation: Ataturk, which handles 45 million passengers a year, and Sabiha, which handles 15 million.

Istanbul New airport will be located near the Black Sea coast. It is planned to replace the existing Ataturk Airport and will become the hub of operations for national flag carrier Turkish Airlines.

“From our perspective, with the addition of a third airport, there will be room for more planes, which is especially important to us as we recently made two giant deals of purchasing 252 aircraft,” says Dr Ali Genç, Turkish Airlines’ senior vice-president, media relations.

“This will enable Turkish Airlines to meet the growing demand of both domestic and international travellers coming into and flying out of Istanbul. This will also highlight the unique international bridge position of Istanbul and will constitute a quantum leap for the further growth of Turkey and thus Turkish Airlines. As this new airport will have six runways and will be able to accommodate about 150 million passengers every year, this increase of capacity will enable us to put in life our expansion plans,” Dr Genç remarks.

The airline will shift all of its operations from Ataturk Airport to the new one, but will continue to use Sabiha Gokcen Airport for some flights.

According to Dr Genç, the new airport will also enable Turkish Airlines to continue its expansion plans in the Middle East. He explains: “The centre of gravity of the global aviation market is still moving from the West to the East. So this comes closer to Istanbul day by day. We assume that the crucial importance of Istanbul will become more concrete in the next 10 years. So, the increase of capacity with the construction of a new airport will enable us to expand our growth worldwide, as well as in the Middle East.”

By Sarah McCay