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Image: Istanbul Airport

Istanbul’s huge new hub readies for full operations

After opening in a grand ceremony last October, Istanbul’s massive airport is set to be fully operational by March 3.

Istanbul’s massive new airport is set to become fully operational on March 3, while at the same time the hub’s more familiar Atatürk Airport will close to commercial traffic.

The new airport officially opened last year, on October 29, but only in a limited capacity. Once fully operational it will have the capacity to serve 90 million passengers a year, with future plans to expand it to accommodate up to 200 million, making it the largest in the world.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is currently the world’s busiest, serving 104 million passengers in 2017.

Istanbul Airport is 3.5 times as big as Beijing Airport, which has an area of 23 million square metres.

The new facility was opened in October by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a “magnificent ceremony” following 42 months of construction time, the airport says.

Global intersection
“We are all ready for the occasion. As a major hub at the intersection of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, we will bring the world closer together,” assures Kadri Samsunlu, chief executive of İGA Airport Operations about the full opening on March 3.

“With an initial capacity to serve 90 million people, which will be expanded to 200 million once all phases are completed, Istanbul Airport will be the biggest airport in the world. Our challenge is to be the biggest and the best.”

Phase two of a 53,000sqm duty-free zone at Istanbul Airport opened on January 15 with five new stores.

Described by Samsunlu as “the soul of Istanbul Airport”, over 1000 domestic and international luxury brands are gathered under one roof, the stores being operated by Unifree Dutyfree İşletmeciliği and its partner Gebr. Heinemann.

Adding routes
As the airport becomes fully operational, Turkish Airlines is adding more routes to its network. Bilal Ekşi, the flag carrier’s general manager, announced a raft of international and domestic destinations via Twitter.

Passengers can now travel to Moscow, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Ashgabat, Tbilisi, Cyprus, Kuwait and Baku, while new domestic routes include Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Adana, Trabzon, Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Kayseri and Hatay. As a result, Istanbul Airport now has a total of 18 domestic and international destinations.

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