Turkey’s President Unveils Istanbul’s New International Airport – A Mega Project
New Mega Project
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, on Monday due inaugurates Istanbul’s new international airport, which his government claims will become the world’s largest. This international airport is one of the several mega-projects under Erdogan’s rule. It was initially scheduled to fully open on Monday but construction has been surrounded by few delays and workers strike over the poor conditions. The first flight from the as-yet-unnamed airport will be to Ankara on Thursday.
Turkey president, Erdogan is expected to reveal the new name of the airport at a lavish ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:00 pm on Monday attended by foreign leaders Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar. This airport will offer flights only to five destinations until total expanded opening takes place on 29 December of this year, from this airport is estimated to handle almost up to 85 to 95 million passengers a year, rising to 190 million when all facilities are completed in the year 2028. Erdogan has championed the ten-billion-euro project in his bid to make Istanbul a global travel hub linking Africa, Asia, Europe and turn flag carrier Turkish Airlines into an aviation giant. The passengers that this airport can handle would be nearly double the number of passengers moving through the world’s current busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in the US city of Atlanta.
The inauguration for the latest facility, which would replace Istanbul’s aging Ataturk Airport, takes place on the 95th anniversary of modern Turkey’s founding by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
However, the president, who has been accused by secularists of undermining Ataturk’s legacy, has marked that he would prefer to not to have the new airport named after the founder.
Many observers predict that Erdogan, who often references the Ottoman Empire, will instead name it after an Ottoman-era sultan such as Abdulhamid II. However, some supporters have even argued it should carry Erdogan’s name. Kadri Samsunlu, the director general of the Istanbul Grand Airport, told foreign media visiting the site on Thursday that “2-month period after Monday’s soft opening will be used to identify on where we need to work a bit more”.
Samsunlu added, “The total business at Ataturk along with planes and equipment will be moved to the new airport over a 2 days period after the hard opening at the end of the year”.
Authorities say a metro line also would be constructed to connect the airport, which is near the Black Sea coast on the European side of Istanbul, to the city Centre 35 Km away.
Before this glitzy launch, the airport looked more like a normal construction site on Thursday, with dump trucks roaring past, a road being paved and workers quickly dismantling scaffolding. This airport, when completed in 2028, will have six runways and two terminals spread over 78 square Km, the IGA said. That would make it three times the size of Ataturk.