Over 40 Million Passengers Use The New Istanbul Airport In Its First Year

Istanbul’s new airport has been open for a whole year. During that time it has served over 40 million passengers, mostly on international flights. While the passenger numbers are lower than the final year of Ataturk’s operation, ministers are confident that growth will continue towards its ultimate goal of 200 million passengers per year.

It’s been a whole year since Istanbul Airport began operating flights. Photo: Istanbul Airport

It seems only yesterday that the new Istanbul Airport was opening its doors for the first time. But, in fact, a whole year has passed, and the airport is already proving its worth. In the first 12 months of operation, some 40.47 million passengers have passed through the terminals, most on international flights.

As reported in the Daily Sabah, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan announced the figures on Monday this week, saying,

“A total of 40.47 million passengers were served at Istanbul Airport since its opening, including 9.872 million passengers on domestic flights and some 30.597 million passengers on international flights.”

Broken down to a daily number, this equates to an average of 49,051 passengers per day on domestic flights and 152,558 on international.

 Istanbul Airport
More than 40 million passengers have passed through its doors. Istanbul Airport

In terms of aircraft, the airport has, to date, served around 252,795 planes, with 63,859 on domestic flights and 188,939 on international. Turhan continued,

“Some 310 planes on domestic flights and 932 planes on international flights land and take off on average on a daily basis.”

Although the figures are lower than those for Ataturk Airport in its final year of operation, the new airport hasn’t had a full year of being fully functional. The October opening was something of a soft opening, hampered by delays, which probably contributed somewhat to traffic falling short of the 68m a year handled by Ataturk.

Airlines at Istanbul

Following the soft launch of the new airport, the full launch went ahead in April, which marked the shutdown of the old Ataturk Airport. This means all airlines have moved from the old airport to the new. According to ATW Online, some 70 airlines operate from Istanbul airport, most of which moved over from the old one.

However, eight international airlines have begun services in Istanbul for the first time since the new airport opened. These include Air Albania, China Southern, Ethiopian, IndiGo, Nouvelair, UR Airlines and Sichuan Airlines. Transavia, the Air France low-cost subsidiary, is slated to begin service from the airport any day now.

 Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport has attracted a number of new airlines. Photo: Istanbul Airport

However, Ahval News reminds readers that the airport has not been without its problems. Many flights have suffered cancellations and delays due to adverse weather. This was an issue that was raised by aviation experts very early in the planning process, as the airport borders the Black Sea in an area known to be prone to fog.

Growth in the pipeline

The airport is currently set up to handle as many as 90 million passengers per year. While that might sound a lot, it’s nowhere near the ultimate goal; a capacity of 200 million. This will be at the end of phase four of the development. Right now we’re at phase one.

So there’s still a long way for Istanbul Airport to go before it reaches its full potential, but things are moving along. Already the airport’s third runway is almost complete. Turhan said of this,

“We plan to finish the third north-south runway in June next year. The construction of a Regional Air Traffic Control Center, an Air Traffic Control Tower and Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Building will be completed in coordination with the third runway.”

 Istanbul Airport
More expansion is just around the corner. Photo: Istanbul Airport

The airport hopes to have the third runway in operation by summer 2020, which will make it one of only a few airports in the world to have triple parallel runways. This would put it up there with the likes of Schiphol, Dallas/Fort Worth and Sea-Tac.

The growth of the airport will be managed in line with the growth in passenger traffic. The next milestone, Turhan says, will come when there are 80 million passengers a year. At this point, the second 450,000 square meter terminal building will be put into service, along with a fourth east-west runway.

Have you passed through the new Istanbul Airport? Let us know your thoughts.