Welcome to this month’s airport special!
A Bloomberg report on January 18 revealed that “Istanbul Airport” earned the top spot as Europe’s busiest airport in 2020.
It’s official. London Heathrow Airport lost its top spot among European Airports in 2020. The formerly crowned airport, with over 81 million passengers in 2019, lingers now in the third spot with 22.1 million passengers only. The airport declared that passenger numbers slumped a massive 73% in 2020, heavily impacted by COVID-19 travel curbs. With fewer passenger planes and less space available for cargo, annual cargo volumes also fell 28%. The highly infectious mutant strain of COVID-19 discovered in the UK back in December also affected the numbers heavily. Paris Charles de Gaulle airport retained the second spot with 22.3 million passengers.
Istanbul’s new hub however, attracted 23.4 million passenger and registered 185,642 aircraft movements in its first full calendar year of operation. In 2020 as well, Istanbul Airport handled 869’289 tons of cargo.
Istanbul Airport, or Istanbul Havalimani (IATA: IST, ICAO: LTFM), is the new public airport located in the Arnavutköy district on the European side of Istanbul, 35 km away from the city center and in the north of the city. The airport’s opening ceremony took place back on 29 October 2018.
Once all four phases are completed, Istanbul’s new airport is expected to become the largest and busiest airport in the world. Spanning an area of 76.5 million square meters, the airport will be able to handle 200 million passengers annually. Once completed, the airport will have 6 operational runways and will host flights to more than 300 international destinations.
The move that dazzled the world…
On April 6, 2019, all scheduled commercial passenger flights were transferred from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Istanbul’s new airport, now the new main international airport serving the city, constructed large enough to meet its growing demands. The IATA code IST was also transferred from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to the new airport. The world witnessed with awe the massive move from the old base. The flag carrier had to move 10’000 pieces of equipment, weighing over 47’000 tons, equivalent to 5’000 truck-volume. Trucks carried equipment ranging from aircraft towing apparatus weighing tens of tons to extremely sensitive materials over a massive distance of 400’000 km. 1’800 employees handled the operation.
Interestingly, Istanbul Airport, operational within less than 5 years since the beginning of the construction process, attracted great interest in the German media. It was cited as an example to follow, especially after Berlin’s airport opening was delayed many times due to technical issues.
Istanbul Airport today…
Currently, Istanbul Airport serves as a hub for Onur Air, Turkish Airlines and Turkish Cargo. It serves as a focus city for Freebird Airlines as well. The thriving airport will help the country’s flag carrier thrive, competing with successful carriers in the Gulf.
The airport’s air traffic control tower is inspired by a tulip flower, a symbol of the thriving city. At the current phase, the airport has four operational runways and one terminal in service for domestic and international flights. 16L/34R and 16R/34L asphalt runways are 3’750 m long. 17L/35R and 17R/35L asphalt runways are 4’100 long. The airport features five concourses lettered A, B, D, F and G, with 143 boarding bridges in total.
Thousands of security personnel, including police and immigration officers, provide airport security. In addition, the airport perimeter is protected by ground radar, fixed CCTV cameras, pan-tilt cameras, thermal cameras and fiber-optic sensors.
Eventually, the airport will be linked by the two lines of the Istanbul Metro. Currently, it is serviced by private Havaist and public IETT buses.
That’s all for this week, peeps!
Until next week…