Istanbul’s third new airport, named Istanbul Airport, has been inaugurated today. The ceremony was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This giant mega-project, at a total cost of some USD 10.7 billion, once fully completed in 2028, will handle some 200 million passengers per annum, and will be a major hub for international transfer passengers in the region. More than 50 foreign dignitaries from at least 18 countries also attended the lavish opening ceremony of the first phase of the new facility.
The new airport was built by a consortium of five large, politically connected Turkish contractors – Limak, Kolin, Cengiz, Mapa and Kalyon – on a build-operate-transfer model that will allow the builders to reap profits off the facility for the next 20 years while paying the country USD 25 billion in rent. London-based firm Grimshaw Global led the design team for the terminal, which includes skylights inspired by Ottoman-era mosques. The builders boast that there will be a 22,000-camera surveillance system, a 53,000 sq.m. duty free complex described as the world's largest, a 42 kilometre baggage handling system, 225,000 employees, car parks to accommodate 70,000 cars, and a total area of 76.5 million sq.m..
The first daily flight from the airport will begin on October 31st, 2018, to the Turkish capital of Ankara, followed by daily flights to Izmir, and Antalya as well as to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and Ercan, the capital of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. The launch of full operations has been pushed back to December 29th, 2018, at which time the airport will have a capacity for some 90 million passengers per annum with more than 250 carriers flying to over 350 destinations. The airport will initially have three runways and, by 2028, six runways with a capacity of 500 aircraft.
A metro line connecting the airport to the city 20 miles away will begin operations in two years; in the meantime buses will shuttle passengers to the terminal, located near the shores of the Black Sea, from 18 locations throughout the city. A new smartphone app will help guide passengers from the city to the terminal.
The airport will give a boost to the country's flagship carrier, Turkish Airlines, as it competes with Arabian Peninsula airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad as well as European airlines for dominance of Eurasia. On Monday, Turkish Airlines announced a code-sharing partnership with Hong Kong Airlines, expanding its reach into fast-growing Asian cities.