Istanbul’s brand new airport was fully functional from April 7, after airlines flying to and from the country relocated their operations from the old Ataturk airport in the Turkish capital. The world’s biggest change-over between airports will require suspension of flights for 45 hours at both facilities.
Once it is fully built by 2028, Istanbul Grand Airport (iGA) will be the world’s biggest, with a capacity of 200 million passengers annually.
At its current stage of development, the airport has a terminal building capable of handling 90 million passengers per year, two runways and an Air Traffic Control Tower. It saw a soft launch in October last year, following which it has been operating some flights of flag carrier Turkish Airlines as part of the trial stage.
The architecture of the terminal building is replete with elements of Turkish-Islamic art, reflected in its vaulted ceiling and large columns. Its spectacular Air Traffic Control is shaped like a tulip — one of the important symbols of the country and its national flower.
The skylight roof allows diffused daylight into the building and helps one banish the feeling of being confined indoors.
After the final stage of development, the airport will have two terminal buildings, two support facilities (waiting area) linked with buses or underground trains, six runways, three Air Traffic Control Towers, 371 parking stands and 143 passenger boarding bridges.
Inside the terminal building, passenger amenities include 566 check-in counters, 228 passport control points, 150 food and beverages outlets and 206 duty-free stores, as well as a 451-room hotel, which can be accessed both from city and air-side.
An underground metro connecting the airport with the city centre is expected to be ready by December.
After April 7, iGA swapped its airport code with the old airport and is designated as IST. The old airport will be known as ISL and will continue to operate cargo and business jets.
The scale of the new airport and Turkey’s geographical location, at the meeting point of Asia and Europe, is expected to offer the country an opportunity to develop as a hub airport for long-haul and long-to-short haul operations, and compete with three of the biggest airports — Dubai International, Abu Dhabi International and Hamad International.
The reporter was in Istanbul on invitation from IndiGo and AccorHotels