Aerial view of the airport in September 2018
|Owner||General Directorate of State Airports (DHMİ)|
|Operator||IGA (Istanbul Grand Airport) Havalimanı İşletmesi A.Ş.|
|Opened||29 October 2018|
|Hub for||Turkish Airlines (begins 5 April 2019)|
|Time zone||TRT (UTC+03:00)|
|Elevation AMSL||99 m / 325 ft|
The airport was planned as the largest in the world with a 150 million annual passenger capacity in its last planned expansion stage, while remaining upgradable to handle 200 million annual passengers if required in the future. It is the third international airport to be built in Istanbul after Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen, and is planned to become the main international airport serving Istanbul. Atatürk Airport will be closed down for scheduled passenger flights on April 6, 2019 at 02:00 and service will transfer to Istanbul Airport on April 6, 2019 at 14:00. The IATA code IST will be transferred to the new airport.
Atatürk Airport, Istanbul's current main airport, is located in the Yeşilköy neighbourhood of the Bakırköy district and is surrounded by urban Istanbul. Additionally, there is an increasing problem of air traffic congestion. Atatürk Airport is one of the busiest airports in Europe. Since 2013, it has ranked among the five busiest airports in Europe by passenger traffic.
There is no space to build an additional runway at Atatürk Airport, as the airport is surrounded on all sides due to the growth of the city. Because of the limited capacity, the Turkish Airport Authority does not allow additional cargo or charter flights to the airport. Due to a lack of slot capacity and parking spaces, some of Turkish Airlines' aircraft are based in Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Sabiha Gökçen Airport itself is already at maximum terminal capacity of 25 million passengers, and handled 28 million passengers in 2015 after posting traffic growth rates averaging over 20% a year since 2013.
In 2015 and 2016, the two Istanbul airports handled almost 100 million passengers, with more than 100 million passengers in 2017. In terms of area airports, the six London-area airports serve more than 150 million passengers a year, while the three Paris-area airports serve around 100 million passengers a year.
The new airport is constructed at the intersection of roads to Arnavutköy, Göktürk, and Çatalca, north of the Istanbul city centre and between the Black Sea coast towns of Yeniköy, Tayakadın and Akpınar. The construction zone is a 7,659-hectare region near Lake Terkos. Some 6,172 hectares of this area was state-owned forest. The distance between Istanbul Airport and Atatürk Airport is approx. 35 km (22 mi) as the crow flies. The area encompassed old open-pit coal mines, which were filled up with soil. The new airport will eventually be linked by several lines of the Istanbul Metro: one starting from Gayrettepe station on the new M11 line, another from Halkalı on the Marmaray rail line.@
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report published in April 2013, there were a total of 2,513,341 trees in the area and 657,950 of them would need to be cut indispensably, while 1,855,391 trees would be moved to new places. However, the Ministry of Forest and Water Management claimed the exact number of trees cut and moved would only be revealed after construction was complete.
The tender for construction and operation of the facility until 2030 was held on May 3, 2013. The project is made up of four construction stages. If all stages are completed, the airport will reach a capacity of 150 million passengers, which would have made it the biggest in the world at the time of planning. The first stage of construction was planned to finish within 42 months of the handover of the land. The total project cost is expected to be approximately €7 billion, excluding financing costs. The construction and operation consortium has been guaranteed 342 million passengers in 12 years by the government.
At the bidding session on May 3, 2013, only four out of fifteen Turkish and two foreign companies that were qualified as bidders showed up. The Turkish joint venture consortium of Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon won the tender, and were obliged to pay the government €26.142 billion including value-added tax for a 25-year lease starting from 2018. The completion date of the construction's first stage was officially set for 2018 – 42 months after the finalization of the tender's approval.
The inauguration of the airport took place on the planned date of 29 October 2018. It was reported that the first test landing at the airport would take place on February 26, 2018; however the first landing took place on 20 June 2018. Testing of navigational and electronic systems with DHMİ aircraft had begun on 15 May 2018.
The first stage consists of the main terminal with a total passenger capacity of 90 million, with an area of 1,300,000 m2 (14,000,000 sq ft), and a second terminal building with an area of 170,000 m2 (1,800,000 sq ft) and a total of 88 aircraft jet bridges as well as an indoor car-park with a capacity of 12,000 vehicles. There will be 2 independent runways connected to 8 parallel taxiways to the south of the main terminal and approximately 4,000,000 m2 (43,000,000 sq ft) of apron space. Additionally the airport will feature 3 technical blocks, a new air traffic control tower as well as terminals for cargo and general aviation, and several other services including hospitals, frequent-flyer and VIP lounges, prayer rooms, convention centres, hotels etc.
The second stage will add a third runway with 3 parallel taxiways to the north of the main terminal. A planned third stage will consist of another passenger terminal with a capacity of 30 million annual passengers and an area of 500,000 m2 (5,400,000 sq ft), as well as a fourth runway and additional taxiways and apron areas. The final and fourth stage of expansion will add another terminal with a capacity of 30 million passengers and an area of 340,000 m2 (3,700,000 sq ft) as well as another runway.
Once fully completed by 2025, the airport will have 6 runways, 16 taxiways, an annual passenger capacity of 150 million passengers, which will be expandable to 200 million. The new airport terminals will have a total of 1,500,000 m2 (16,000,000 sq ft) of indoor area, 165 aircraft jet bridges, 4 terminal buildings with interconnecting rail access, 3 technical blocks, 1 air traffic control tower, and 8 ramp control towers. The airport will also have a 6,500,000 m2 (70,000,000 sq ft) apron with 500 aircraft parking capacity, VIP Lounges, cargo and general aviation terminals, a state palace, indoor and outdoor parking with a capacity of approx. 70,000 cars. A medical center, Aircraft rescue and firefighting stations, garage buildings, hotels and convention centers, power plants, water treatment and waste facilities will also be built.
The Turkish Chamber of Environmental Engineers (ÇMO) took the project tender to court on grounds that the project violated the existing legislation for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report. In February 2014, an Istanbul administrative court ordered construction of the airport to be suspended. However, the groundbreaking ceremony took place a few months later, on 7 June 2014.
A report published in Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet in February 2018 claimed that more than 400 workers had been killed during the construction of the airport, with accidents killing three to four workers every week, and families of the killed workers being paid to remain silent about the incidents. Turkish daily Evrensel also alleged that fatal accidents continued to occur. This prompted opposition MP Veli Ağbaba to submit a written questionnaire to the Turkish parliament on 13 February 2018. In response, the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security claimed that there were only 27 fatalities during the construction of the airport.
Mass worker protests broke out on 14 September 2018 after a bus carrying workers crashed, injuring 17. Complaints by workers included poor living conditions in "vermin-infested dormitories", issues in transportation that had left them stranded under the rain or on site during holidays, and long delays in payments, among others. Police and gendarmerie forces were called in and workers eventually returned to work under alleged threats of arrest or further withholding of wages.
On 19 December 2018, part of the airport site was flooded after heavy rain.
The opening ceremony took place on 29 October 2018, scheduled so as to coincide with the 95th anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic. The airport had been unofficially known as 'Istanbul New Airport' during construction - the new official name of 'Istanbul Airport' was announced at the opening ceremony. The first flight from the airport was Turkish Airlines flight TK2124 to the Turkish capital Ankara on 31 October 2018. On 1 November 2018, five daily flights began to arrive and depart from the airport: from Ankara, Antalya, Baku, North Nicosia, and İzmir, followed by Adana and Trabzon starting in December. The flights are all operated by Turkish Airlines. Regularly scheduled flights to these destinations will still depart from Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports alongside these trial flights. It was originally planned that on 31 December 2018, all equipment from Atatürk Airport would be transferred to the new airport via the O-7 Motorway. As of 17 January 2019, the transfer phase is was set to start 1 March 2019. On 25 February however, the transfer phase was moved a fourth time, to 5 April 2019.
In order to offer "a seamless passenger experience," operational management is divided into three parts: Airside Operations, Terminal Operations, and the Airport Operations Control Center (AOCC). In addition, the Technical Services department is tasked with ensuring all processes function efficiently.
The Airside Operations Directorate is responsible for ensuring ground and flight safety within the Runway-Apron-Taxiway (RAT) areas, and maintaining these areas for use free of interruption. Responsibilities include oversight of ARFF services, maintaining the validity of airport certificates, airside vehicle and driver authorizations, and conducting airside inspections to ensure national and international regulations are being met.
The Terminal Operations Directorate is tasked with maintaining the services offered to passengers during their time in the terminal building. This includes responsibility of information and self check-in kiosks, the sophisticated baggage handling system, and a 24/7 passenger support service, among others.
AOCC is a centralized management center where airport operations are monitored in conjunction with technological systems. It aims to offer increased efficiency by bringing different operational departments together in a single center.
The Technical Services department is responsible for carrying out preventive and corrective maintenance throughout airport facilities. The primary goal of the department is to detect and prevent any problems that may hinder the airport's operation, and to ensure that the technical requirements of the airport's operation are in line with ISO 50001: Energy management systems and ISO 55001: Asset management systems.
The airport currently has one terminal in service for domestic and international flights and four runways are currently in operation. The two 17/35 runways are both 4,100 metres (13,451 feet) long, while the 16/34 runways are both 3,750 metres (12,303 feet) long. Runways 17L/35R and 16R/34L are 60 metres (197 feet) wide, while 17R/35L and 16L/34R are 45 metres (148 feet) wide. All runway surfaces are asphalt.
The airport features a total of five concourses lettered A, B, D, F, G. Concourse G, which is located in the southeast, is reserved solely for domestic flights. The eastern side of Concourse F which is directly to the north of Concourse G has also been allocated for domestic flights. Concourses A, B, and D will be used for international flights. The C and E concourses connect directly to the main terminal and are therefore not independent concourses. Until 1 January 2019 all initial Turkish Airlines flights departed from concourses G and F.
3,500 security personnel and a total of 1,850 police, including 750 immigration officers, are expected to provide the airport's security. The site's perimeter will be protected using ground radar, fixed CCTV cameras every 60 meters, pan–tilt–zoom cameras every 360 meters, thermal cameras and fiber optic sensors every 720 meters. The active terminal building uses up to 9,000 CCTV cameras.
Airlines and destinations
Turkish Airlines flies to seventeen destinations from the airport as of January 2019, most other routes are expected to start from April 2019.
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