ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday unveiled Istanbul’s new international airport, which his government claims will be the world’s largest.
Handling 90 million passengers each year at launch, capacity will increase to 200 million if demand justifies it.
Built to replace the city’s overcrowded Atatürk Airport, the USD$12 billion Istanbul New Airport will see only limited commercial flights until January.
Largest customer airline Turkish Airlines will move all its flights to the new airport over the next few months, with the first destinations, Ankara and Ercan launched today, October 31.
Turkish will add Antalya and Izmir on November 1, and Baku on the 8th. The airline announced previously it would move all remaining flights to the airport on December 31.
The new airport’s main terminal has an area of 1,300,000 square metres (14,000,000 sq. ft) and capacity for 88 aircraft. There will be a total of four terminals by the time the airport is completed in 2028.
Launching with two runways, another four will be added by 2028. A total of 4,000,000 square metres (43,000,000 sq. ft) of apron space will handle the largest aircraft including the Airbus A380
Many observers predict Erdogan, who often references the Ottoman Empire, will instead name it after an Ottoman-era sultan such as Abdulhamid II. Some supporters have even argued it should carry Erdogan’s name.
One of the president’s favoured mega-projects, Erdogan says the project will make Istanbul a global travel hub linking Europe, Asia and Africa and turn flag carrier Turkish Airlines into an aviation giant.
The airport is being built in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul.
It is the first completely new “greenfield” facility in Europe in nearly 20 years, the ACI says.
When all four construction phases are complete in 2028, the airport will have six runways and two terminal buildings, covering an area of 76 square kilometres, according to operator IGA.
The last totally new airport in Europe was Athens which entered service in 2001, preceded by Munich in 1992.
The International Air Transport Association says global air traffic is growing at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent.
That means 4.1 billion passengers will take to the air this year, doubling to 8.2 billion by 2037.
Industry body IATA repeatedly warns that airports around the world will struggle to deal with this expansion, urging governments to make the necessary investment to keep up.