What Will Happen To Istanbul Ataturk Airport?

Whilst the world attention has been focused on the opening and operation of Istanbul’s new international airport, few have questioned what will become of the older Ataturk International Airport. Will it be redeveloped, demolished or simply abandoned?

What Will Happen To Istanbul Ataturk Airport?
Istanbul Ataturk Airport from above. The bottom two runways will be retained, but the north runway may be used for another purpose. Source: Wikipedia

We have very few examples of entire airports being shut down and a cities traffic being transferred elsewhere. Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport comes to mind, as when it was shut down (and airport traffic directed to the new airport located on an outlying island) it was redeveloped into much-needed building space for the hungry city.

As for Ataturk, we do know of several different plans in the works for the 12 million square foot terminal building and runways.

What are the details?

The first of several plans is to actually use the facility for its original industry; aviation.

Two of the runways will be kept and will be turned over for general aviation. A single terminal area may remain open for private jet traffic. This would allow VIPs and other private individuals to arrive in Turkey and enter immigration away from prying eyes. Part of the terminal building may be turned over to a ‘university of aviation’, teaching everything to do with flying, maintenance, flight attendance, traffic control, and engineering. Hangers will be opened for maintenance and support for private and commercial airlines.

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

Cargo will remain at Ataturk airport for the next year, as the support is slowly transferred over to the new airport.

Lastly, several of the facilities may be turned over to the military for training and active Air Force use. As the infrastructure is already in place for large amounts of air traffic, it makes sense that an alternative base for Istanbul might be considered.

But that’s not all they are planning…

Ataturk Convention Center

Because of the sheer internal space of the terminal buildings (400,000 square meters), many have proposed that fairs and other conventions be held at the old airport.

This would be a boon for the city, and would actually save many of the local hotels and other services located around the airport. Without the regular flow of international and domestic passengers, many of these airport hotels would be forced to close. We can expect these hotels to offer affordable, high quality rooms, as they try to remain competitive.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Istanbul Ataturk Airport terminal building. Source: Wikipedia.

An ideal customer would be one of the many airshows that tour the world. A convention center that includes a functioning airport (plus facilities) would be a very attractive opportunity.

Only time will tell what Istanbul will do with these old facilities, but we’re sure that they will come up with some pretty creative solutions!

What do you think they should do with the old airport?