Istanbul New Airport Opening Delayed For 3rd Time

The full opening of Istanbul’s new airport, Istanbul Airport, has been delayed for the third time. Even though the inauguration of the mega-airport took place at the end of October of 2018, the full opening of the airport, including moving all operations from Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport, has not occurred.

Aircraft at Istanbul Airport
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aircraft was the first aircraft to ever land at Istanbul Airport. Photo: Istanbul Airport.

Originally, the airport was supposed to be fully operational by the end of October of 2018. Nonetheless, this date was pushed back to January 1st of 2019. Simple Flying reported last December that Istanbul Airport was “not yet ready to receive all the flights from the old airport.” At this time, the opening date was pushed back once again, this time to March 3rd.

Now we have learned that the full opening has been delayed one more time. Reportedly, all operations will finally move from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport beginning on April 5, 2019.


What do we know about the transfer?

The transfer of operations is expected to start at 3:00 am on April 5 and conclude on April 7 at 12:00 am. During the move, both airports will operate with a reduced capacity. As a result, only 70 flights per hour will be able to take off and land. In contrast, the normal capacity is 80 flights per hour. Therefore, we are likely to see delays and cancellations during the transition period.


The new Istanbul Airport

Istanbul Airport features the world’s largest terminal under one roof. Initially, the airport will be able to handle 90 million passengers annually. Nonetheless, once all planned expansions have been completed, its annual passenger capacity will be as much as 200 million. In comparison, Dubai International Airport has an annual capacity of 90 million passengers.

Istanbul Airport
Once completed, Istanbul Airport will have an annual passenger capacity of 200 million. Photo: Istanbul Airport.

In addition to the 90 million passengers, Istanbul Airport will have the capacity to handle 2.5 million tons of cargo from the get-go. This annual capacity, however, will be as much as 5.5 million tons once the expansions have been completed.


If you are interested in learning more about Istanbul Airport, Simple Flying published an article about what it is like to fly through Istanbul’s superhub airport earlier this month.

What will happen to Ataturk Airport once Istanbul Airport is fully operational?

According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, Ataturk Airport will remain open; however, it will not be used for commercial passenger flights any longer. Nevertheless, it will still be available for general aviation, business flights, air taxi, cargo, and government flights.

Ataturk Airport
Ataturk Airport will remain Turkish Airlines’ hub until operations are finally moved to the new Istanbul Airport. Photo: Wikimedia.

Once the move is completed, Ataturk’s “IST” IATA airport code will be transferred to Istanbul Airport. At this time, Ataturk will become “ISL.”

Are you looking forward to Istanbul’s new mega-airport?


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Sam Palmer

What caught my eye was how the control tower and the bottom part looks like a snake.

Lara S.

I just want to know what the Turkish lounge will look like!!

MOHSEN Ghorani

Any idea how to transfer from the new airport to Sabiha Gokcen?


there is no public transport as the train or subway. As far as I know there is no direct bus either. The best option is to use a taxi or a private transfer company. I have used Al’s Taxi,


Again! I’m planned already 2 flights to see the new airport. 1 in November and 1 in March and now what? One more in May! When it stops…


Well Emirates don’t seem to know about the move. I have contacted them twice and they still say “we have no plans to move at this time” with only 2 weeks to go. It would be nice if they could reassure travelers who have connections to make.


Well, Erdogan his project has to be succesfull so Turkish Airlines have to move there.
It is so stupid, at least 2 hours drive from the city centre.
55 kilometres instead of 20.