Turkey is building one of the biggest airports in the world in Istanbul at the moment. The airport will have a capacity of 90 million passengers per year, and when the entire airport project is complete (in about a decade), the airport will have a capacity of 200 million passengers per year, making it the world’s largest airport.
Initially the airport was supposed to be fully operational at the end of this month. At the end of October they were supposed to make the switch, with all flights transferring from one airport to the other overnight.
However, in mid-September we learned that wouldn’t in fact be happening. We now have some more details about the transition to the new airport, including which flights will operate from the new airport.
According to Turkish Airlines, Istanbul’s new airport will become operational as of October 29, 2018. The airline will launch a limited number of domestic and international flights at the airport through the end of the year, with the main operation continuing to be carried out at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.
The full transition is expected to take place on December 31, 2018, with all operations being carried out at the new airport as of then (again, I suspect this is highly subject to change).
So, what flights should we expect from Istanbul’s new airport? Turkish Airlines will be operating flights to/from Ankara, Antalya, İzmir, Baku, and Ercan, from the new airport. However, these flights will be in addition to the regular flights operated to these destinations out of Istanbul’s main airport, so connecting passengers won’t have to book these flights. I imagine they’ll be pretty empty initially.
The new airport will be given the code “ISL” until the old airport closes, at which point it will get the “IST” airport code.
I’ll be curious to see with what timeline the transition really happens. The current plan is a bit odd, as Turkish Airlines is essentially adding additional frequencies to destinations out of the new airport, which should lead to some excess capacity.
In reality that’s the only way to do it, though, given how messy it would be if connecting passengers flew into one airport and out of the other, since the airports are so far apart.
(Tip of the hat to Micah)