Istanbul has long been the gateway between East and West, with the Bosporus strait marking the boundary between Europe and Asia. Istanbul’s new airport will take that gateway status to a whole new level, making Istanbul the main point of connection for many international flyers.
“What’s the big deal?” you may be thinking. “Istanbul already has an airport.” Well, here’s why every traveler, business and leisure, should be keeping an eye on Istanbul.
The biggest thing to know about the new airport is that it’s, well, big. Really big. By the time every stage is completed, it will be the biggest airport in the world, able to comfortably serve up to 200 million passengers each year. It’ll offer flights to and from over 300 destinations (we did it first with our global chauffeur service, just saying.
Once the first stage is completed it will open with capacity for 90 million passengers, which would already be 30 million more than Istanbul’s current hub, Atatürk Airport.
The new airport will completely replace Atatürk Airport, gradually taking over its traffic until the old airport can be shut down and the new one can claim the IGA flight code. The Atatürk Airport will be then converted into a people’s garden.
The new airport isn’t nearly as central as Atatürk but, to be fair, it’s tough to find over 7,000 hectares of workable land close to the city center. Instead it’s northwest of the city, hugging the coast of the Black Sea, and about an hour’s drive to the city center.
As most of these “world’s biggest” projects tend to be, it’s behind schedule. The first test flight was supposed to take place in February but didn’t end up happening until June.
The opening inauguration planned for October 29, Turkey’s National Day, ended up being only a soft launch, with the actual E.T.A. for the full handover pushed back first to the end of the year, but now planned for early March. January figures from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure state the airport has already served over 90,000 travelers, most of which were domestic.
With the first phase open, there are three more stages of construction to before it will be able to serve the planned 200 million passengers. While initial estimates were that the entire project would be completed before 2030, only time will tell what the ripple effect of these first-phase delays will be.
As far as the services that will be available in the airport, we don’t know any specifics yet, though we do know there will be VIP lounges, plenty of duty-free shopping and restaurants, places of worship, a hotel, and convention centers. Sounds like the standard for large airports, but keep in mind that this will be the biggest, and the amenities will probably be scaled up too.
Also available will be services like babysitting, personal assistance, special programs for business trips, and fast-tracking.