Istanbul’s New Airport Welcomes Its 200 Millionth Passenger

Welcoming its 200 millionth passenger this week, Istanbul’s new airport is already becoming one of the world’s busiest.

Four and a half years after first opening for passenger service, IGA Istanbul Airport has announced that it has now served 200 million passengers. The airport, which replaced the older Ataturk Airport, has developed into a modern hub connecting Europe and Asia and serves as the base of operations for Star Alliance carrier Turkish Airlines.

The 200 millionth passenger was 32-year-old Carine Lee, who was preparing to travel from the airport to Singapore. Lee, however, did not have a usual airport experience as she was promptly presented with a plaque for being the airport’s 200 millionth passenger after passing through the security checkpoint.

Deputy General Manager of Operation for IGA Airport, Mehmet Buyukkaytan,met Lee at her gate and provided her with a one-year membership for IGA PASS, the airport’s premium membership program. Indeed, Lee had an experience at one of the world’s most impressive airports that she will never forget.

Istanbul's New Airport Welcomes Its 200 Millionth Passenger 2

A hub connecting continents, peoples, and cultures

The massive new airport, which serves as the center of the vast Turkish Airlines network, services all six inhabited continents as well as a variety of destinations within Turkiye itself. While nearly three-quarters of the airport’s passengers travel from international destinations, over 50 million domestic travelers passed through the airport since its opening.

The most popular international routes, as an IGA Airport statement said this week, were flights to Moscow, London, Dubai, Tel Aviv and Tehran. The most popular route that connects the airport with the Iranian capital was traveled by nearly six million passengers since the airport’s opening in 2018.

The domestic routes which maintained the strongest passenger traffic were those to Antalya, Izmir and Ankara – all routes frequented by Turkish nationals traveling through Istanbul on connecting flights to destinations abroad.

Capturing controversial demand

Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Tehran are not destinations one would expect to be at the top of IGA’s passenger traffic list. However, given current geopolitical tensions, the airport has been able to capture demand from some of the world’s most controversial regions.

While most European nations have ceased air service to Russia amid the war in Ukraine, Turkish Airlines continues to operate service to both European destinations and Moscow. As a result, the carrier has been able to capture demand between the two destinations and Istanbul Airport has thrived.

Similarly, Turkish Airlines has been able to serve as an important vessel for travel to and from both Iran and Israel, two nations with limited international air service as a result of their geopolitical dispositions.

Ultimately, the Turkish flag carrier has utilized the nation’s position of relative neutrality in global affairs to capitalize upon travel demand to regions fraught with conflict and political strife. Considering this, it is unsurprising that Turkish Airlines serves more destinations than any other carrier, almost all with direct service from Istanbul’s new airport.

While El Al or an Iranian carrier can serve Istanbul, they cannot serve all 314 domestic and international destinations in the Turkish Airlines network, which the carrier can do with just one brief layover at one of the world’s newest airports and on just one ticket.


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