The New Istanbul Airport – A First-Hand Report

Posted by on Nov 29, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Last week our staff visited the new Istanbul Airport, which was officially “opened” on October 29 (it was a soft-opening, as construction work is still underway ahead of a major ramp up in early 2019). Billed as the “world’s largest airport”, it is bigger in size than some cities, covering about 1.47 million-square-meters. Over 22,000 workers have been involved in the project, which incredibly will be completed in just a few short years.

Here are some personal observations:

Location: The new Istanbul Airport is on the European side of Istanbul, and can be reached by driving west and north from the city towards the Black Sea coast. It is located farther away from the city center than Ataturk International Airport, which for decades has been the primary airport serving the city. Those who are familiar with Istanbul know how bad the local traffic can be, so the 45-60 minutes transfer time that we typically budget for Ataturk International Airport will be 60+ minutes for the new Istanbul Airport. At this time, public transportation access is limited to express bus service, but a high-speed rail/subway system that links various points in the city with the new Istanbul Airport is under construction and should be completed in 2020.

Getting There: The freeway leading to the new Istanbul Airport is quite nice and at present fairly uncrowded. But, if the estimates of 3,000 flights a day and an annual capacity of 200 million passengers are to be fulfilled, the freeway connection may quickly become jammed up. We would highly recommend using comfortable private vehicles, which Turkey At Its Best can pre-arrange to make your transfers to or from the new Istanbul Airport as pleasant as possible!

Launch Date: At this time, there are only a few daily flights that take off and land at the new Istanbul Airport – serving a handful of destinations within Turkey, plus Baku, Azerbaijan, and Northern Cyprus. Officially, they say that all flights from Ataturk International Airport will be transferred to the new Istanbul Airport on December 31, 2018. However, looking at the current status of the construction, we believe there is a chance that it may take a few more weeks, or perhaps months, before this happens. So, travelers should assume that their flights will continue to utilize Ataturk International Airport for a bit longer. Turkey At Its Best is actively monitoring the status and will advise and assist our customers as and when the airport switch happens!

Why We’re Excited: We are of the opinion that ultimately the new Istanbul Airport will present a big improvement for travelers flying to or through Istanbul.

The new Istanbul Airport will utilize the most advanced technologies to enhance traveler experiences. Computer assisted check-in, security, and immigration processes will make things easier and faster. Robots and driverless cars will be deployed to help guide passengers. A 450-room in-terminal hotel – with both landside and airside rooms – will be available. Even new smartphone applications will be released, and reportedly may include features that would allow travelers to pre-order duty free before they arrive!

The International and Domestic terminals are both under one colossal roof, which should also make transfers faster and easier for consumers. And, importantly, the size of the operation – including 500 check-in desks, and up to 143 boarding gates when completed – will address the capacity/crowding issues prevalent in the existing area airports. With the added space, Turkish Airlines – which already flies to more countries than any other airline in the world – is slated to further expand their network after moving its full operations to the new Istanbul Airport.

Napoleon once said “If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital”. We believe, when it is totally completed, the new Istanbul Airport will be most fitting for this amazing city!

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