New airport plans for Istanbul to provide for growth of Turkish Airlines



When news broke that Turkish Airlines was set to connect some 30 African destinations by the end of this year, moving to 40 by the end of 2013, many had to check back to be certain of the accuracy of the statement at the time, but the ongoing rollout into Africa has made this a reality, no longer just a plan. Turkish now connects Entebbe, Kigali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and has announced a new triangular flight from Istanbul to Kilimanjaro and Mombasa from mid December onwards, making it top dog of foreign airlines offering connections to literally all East African destinations of substance, other than Bujumbura for which, according to a regular source, plans exist but no time frame has been announced yet.

Connecting in Istanbul to over 200 destinations, including an extensive domestic network of course, and operating a fleet of nearly 200 state of the art aircraft, Turkish has almost by stealth established itself as a truly global airline and is set to grow further yet. Only recently did THY’s CEO Dr. Kotil project the number of aircraft to grow to eventually some 400, not something however one would like to see operating via the airline’s current hub Istanbul Ataturk, aka IST, which is getting increasingly congested. This limitation has been affecting the quality of ground handling and the comfort of transit passengers connecting there into the growing network of Turkish and would have a serious impact on passengers decisions when deciding if to fly with any of the Gulf carriers, operating in and out of spanking new hub airports, or building them, or use THY via Istanbul as an alternative.

News were therefore welcome when it was confirmed that a new state of the art airport with an eventual capacity of 150 million passengers will be built outside of Istanbul, sporting up to 5 runways and being rolled out in two if not three phases. Phase one should be ready by 2016 already, catering for Turkish’s rapid expansion and being able to handle the growing volume on transit passengers, crucial to THY’s ambitious growth plans for passenger numbers, besides of course providing a state of the art cargo processing centre too.

To be built in a public private partnership no final costs are available but could reach 10 billion US Dollars by 2023, when phase two of the new airport is projected to be ready. Istanbul’s present airports Ataturk and Sabiha Goekcen will also continue to operate but see long haul traffic very likely to shift to the new facility when opening in four years time. Watch this space.