Istanbul Airport set to become one of world’s top 5 airports

Istanbul Airport is set to become one of the top five airports in the world in four years, with the number of passengers using the airport forecast to exceed 100 million, according to Kadri Samsunlu, the CEO of İGA.

Airlines in Europe are still struggling to overcome the fallout of the pandemic, but the passenger traffic at Istanbul Airport will exceed the pre-pandemic level by 10 percent to reach 75 million this year, Samsunlu said.

The total passenger traffic at the mega airport grew 24 percent in the January-August period of 2023 from a year ago to nearly 51 million.

The international passenger tally rose by 26 percent to 38.4 million,while 12.5 million domestic passengers went through the airport, up 17 percent.

“According to our plans, the number of passengers using Istanbul Airport will exceed 100 million in four years, and we will become one of the top 5 airports in the world,” he said.

Travelers from 130 countries arrive at the airport, according to Samsunlu. Ten years ago, there were almost no transit passengers, but today, they account for 35 to 40 percent of all passengers, he noted.

They have emerged from the pandemic stronger, thanks to the government’s superb coordination with the players in the sector, Samsunlu said.

“We could not see the light at the end of the tunnel for 16 months during the pandemic. However, we opened a third runway during the pandemic with an investment worth 734 million euros. We were the only airport which continued investments in the world.”

Even though they are presently using 75 percent of the airport’s capacity, they have launched construction work for the fourth runway, he said, adding that it would cost around 500 million euros.

The new runway will be put into service in August 2026. The company is also building a new general aviation terminal, which will cost 30 million euros, and it will open doors in the first quarter of 2024.

They are holding talks with airlines about those companies’ launching flights to Istanbul, he added.

“We need to have a stronger presence in the Asian markets, such as China, India, South Korea and Malaysia, as well as the U.S. and Latin America. We are looking at the opportunities to become a ‘super hub,’” Samsunlu said.

Earlier this month, Istanbul Airport was named “Europe’s Best Airport with Over 40 Million Passengers,” “Europe’s Most Enjoyable Airport” and “Europe’s Cleanest Airport” at the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) awards held by the Airports Council International (ACI) in South Korea.


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