Istanbul has a brand new airport to replace the current, over capacity Ataturk Airport (IST).
Last month I wrote about how ‘Istanbul New Airport’ had received its first flights from Turkish Airlines using the temporary airport code ISL, and would continue to receive very limited domestic and international flights before all ground equipment was to be moved from IST. The plan was that the airport would begin full operations (with all other airlines using ISL) at the start of January 2019.
The airport operators had previously proposed a 48 hour changeover period that was originally supposed to occur on October 30-31 this year, when the new airport was to fully open on November 1.
This was then shortened to just a 24 hour changeover period, to occur on December 31, to be able to meet the new January 1 date for ISL to fully operate.
As you might imagine, it is an enormous logistical job to move all of the ground equipment from the airport by road from the old IST airport to the new ISL airport in such a short space of time.
It’s an interesting logistical balance — obviously the city does not want to close to flights for any longer than is absolutely necessary (noting Istanbul’s second, much smaller airport SAW would continue to operate during the changeover), but it is also difficult to pack, move, unpack and set up everything in just two days, let alone the one day that was proposed for December 31.
Given the changeover has already been delayed from October 30/31 to December 31, it might not surprise you to hear that the changeover has been delayed again.
Reuters is reporting that Istanbul New Airport will now be fully operational on March 3, 2019. The airport operators have not said when and how long the changeover will be, but I would assume it will occur on either March 1 and 2, or just March 2.
There was some discussion that a film crew may record the changeover to form a documentary about the massive logistical task of moving all the ground equipment. I really hope they do as it would be a fascinating exercise to watch.
Given this is the second time the airport changeover has been delayed it may be delayed again — if you are flying in or out of IST/ISL in March regardless of the airline or destination/origin, you should be notified which airport you will be using.
Has anyone used the new ISL airport on the limited Turkish Airlines flights yet? What is it like?