By Paul Hogan onsite at the Grand Opening
A version of this article first appeared on The New Airport Show Istanbul website.
“This airport, the largest in the world, shall be known as Istanbul Airport,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced to over 5,000 guests at the Official Grand Opening of what has so far been known as İstanbul New Airport on 29 October 2018, Turkish National Day, and the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
“The Istanbul Airport, with its architecture, construction, operation and financing, is a project which is a source of pride for Turkey and sets an example to the world,” President Erdoğan said.
Underlining that Turkey, Istanbul in particular, has always been at an important strategic location, President Erdoğan stated: “Turkey, with Istanbul Airport going into service, has become the most important transit hub between north-south and east-west axes. The Istanbul Airport connects 60 countries and $20-trillion economies across the vast area it serves.” President Erdoğan further stressed: “With Istanbul Airport going into service, the European air space will need to be restructured. Istanbul will now become the major transfer hub, which will greatly change the intercontinental flight routes.”
Among those assembled to hear the President officially launch the new mega-hub were the leaders of over 10 countries and 50 other ministers and senior officials drawn from other nations with important business relations to the new airport.
President Erdoğan hailed the role Istanbul has fast-assimilated as one of the leading transfer hubs in the world and how Istanbul Airport would go on to become an employment site for 225,000 people, and make a single contribution of 4.9% to Turkey’s GNP.
“One of the smartest airports in the world” – a discussion with the CEO
“While Istanbul Airport is the new home of Turkish Airlines’ global hub, we have also received significant interest from other airlines on the possibilities of launching new routes and frequencies, especially because of the ease of access created by a dramatic increase in slots availability – within 16 months we’ll have a third runway, doubling the airside capacity over the existing airport,” said Kadri Samsunlu, CEO of İGA Airport Operation in an interview on the opening day. “I am tremendously proud of this day and what we have achieved since the concept of the airport was first announced in January 2013.”
Because Istanbul Airport is the first entirely new global hub to be created in the 21st century, Samsunlu says it benefits from “the best-available technologies, a hugely efficient passenger experience, and represents a global aviation technology incubator in its own right”.
To support this aim, in October İGA established İGA Systems Company to provide the infrastructure for Istanbul Airport, which will serve as a technology base to drive the airport’s ambitions to be one of the smartest airports in the world. İGA Systems will undertake the design, installation, integration, and implementation operations at Istanbul Airport.
Commercial platform for “Turkish hero brands”
Talking at the opening ceremony, Mert Başar, Chief Commercial Officer, İGA, said: “Besides well over 40,000 square metres of duty free retailing, we offer a complete blend of ‘global and local’ shopping and eating choices in what will be one of the most important platforms for the introduction of Turkish products and hero brands to millions of people from different nationalities.”
Following the official opening, preparation and testing will continue until end-December. During this period, Turkish Airlines will operate an interim schedule of three domestic and two international services from the new airport. After the full end-year transfer of the Turkish Airlines hub, and all other airline services, Istanbul Airport will be capable of processing 90 million passengers, later rising to 200 million passengers, and upwards of 350 destinations. With the completion of all phases in 2025, Istanbul Airport will be a six-runway facility.
An open day tour
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