Istanbul Airport boasts 64 million passengers in 2019

Turkish Airlines is one of the largest operators at Istanbul Airport. Photo by Benjamin Liew | AeroNewsX

After airport operations moved from Ataturk Airport (LTBA/ISL) to the new Istanbul Airport (LTFM/IST), the new mega airport served 64 million passengers in a nearly one-year period, from April 2019 to the end of this March, according to Samsunlu, Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA) operator. The airport also hosted 74 aviation companies and 67 food firms and made $24.2 million in additional payments to the state, the airport's operator IGA announced on Monday in a press release.

In a statement released to celebrate the anniversary, Samsunlu said the day also marks one of the greatest logistic operations in civil aviation history, the transfer from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport. Thousands of tons of equipment, from huge aircraft-towing vehicles to extremely sensitive materials, moved across the city. Trucks carried equipment a total distance of 400,000 kilometers, an equivalent of going 10 times around the world. Over 1,800 personnel assisted during the operation.

Scheduled to last 45 hours, the operation finished in a record time of 33 hours. It began in the early hours of April 5, 2019, and ended on April 6, 2019, in the afternoon. Calling the operation “a great migration,” Samsunlu said IGA has written its name in the history of civil aviation by completing such a comprehensive plan with great managerial success. It said work on the airport's third airstrip will end as of June 18. “Everything at the airport is being completed by our schedule and planning,” Samsunlu added. The new airport can handle 90 million passengers a year in the current phase of development, which, while it is a high figure, is nothing compared to its potential capacity to serve 200 million after the completion of all phases. Once fully operational, it will be the world's largest in terms of the number of passengers. All four phases of the airport's construction and expansion, including six runways, are expected to be complete by 2028.

On the world aviation sector slowdown due to COVID-19, Samsunlu noted that "It won't take much time for people to return to their old habits after being confined to their houses for weeks. The aviation industry will overcome the crisis and rise again." As of Sunday, Turkey has reported more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll stands at 574.

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