Turkish Airlines’ Move To Istanbul’s New Airport Is Complete

This weekend Turkish Airlines finally fully moved their operations to Istanbul’s new airport. The move was delayed significantly. It was supposed to happen last October, but that ended up being pushed back, as they only moved a small number of flights to the new airport.

The move was scheduled to happen from 2AM until 2PM on Saturday, April 6, 2019, so I was curious to see how it worked out. This was a massive undertaking, given that they were not only moving planes between airports, but also moving an insane amount of equipment.

  • During the move, Turkish Airlines flew roughly 100 airplanes between the two airports in Istanbul, with at one point a plane taking off every several minutes
  • During the move, they’re transporting what they describe as enough material to cover a total of 33 football fields

There was the potential for a lot to go wrong, both logistically and politically, especially as this came just days after an election.

Well, the good news is that Istanbul’s new airport is now fully operational, and the move happened faster than expected. They describe this as the largest ever move in global civil aviation.

Here’s a tribute video about the move showing some employees flying between the two airports:

And here are a couple of shorter videos the airline has released on social media about the new airport:

I’m looking forward to checking out the new airport in a couple of days, including the new lounges.

I will say that while I’m looking forward to visiting the new airport and am impressed by the speed with which Turkish Airlines completed the transition, I wouldn’t say the project as such deserves many kudos. It’s rumored that well over 400 people died in the construction of the airport, though the government hasn’t acknowledged a vast majority of those deaths.

The degree to which speed and cost savings were prioritized over safety is tragic and disappointing.

Comments

  1. A 6 month delay is not much…better then the Germans! And also better to wait and plan the ove well insted of getting a chaotic move. But I note that all flights out of the new airport are delayed today

  2. Whoahh!

    400 people died on this project: that’s a lot!!

    I did not know this fact.

    Thanks Ben to have highlighted it.

  3. @criced dont put Bavarians and eastern Germans in the same basket 😉 The move from Munich Riem to Munich FJS happened overnight with barely any delays (if any)

  4. 400 people died? Think you may need to double check that. Last I read was 28 – still high but no where near the 400 mark!

  5. Still want to know where they’re putting us biz travellers that have a 16+ hour layover. They’ve been mum whenever I ask as to whether they’re putting us up in the new airport hotel or not as there’s not much outside the airport.

  6. Why is accepted absolutely correct what It’s “rumored”?
    Turkish Daily Newspaper “Cumhuriyet” has written “the 400 dead” in a very long Report first time and this News can be still found on internet, also translated by an online translator.

    This “exclusive” news was all about new Airport but There were only few sentences about “the 400 dead” in this long report..A Truck Driver whose name is “C.” rumored “the 400 dead”…and That’s it! No concrete evidence, no Photo, no document, no interview with the families of “the victims” in this news. I can also share the link with you all, if you want. Because I don’t know whether it’s allowed to post the links from the other websites here.

    What the Turkish oppositional newsportals write, it’s accepted automatically as “truth”! outside of Turkey! Especially by the Media! This is absolutely ridiculous!

  7. So what happens to somebody who flew on vacation last week and they arrive home today only to find that the car they drove to the airport in is now at a completely different airport??!

  8. I’m a travel agent and one of my clients arrived in Istanbul on 04 April on one of the last arriving flights international from LAX, and departed at 158pm on 06 April to Paris on one of the very first flights departing (internationally). His comments could not have been more positive. He stayed in old town Istanbul for the night and TK helped arrange transfer to new Istanbul airport which he said looks incredible. He has been to Ataturk airport before which had an incredible business lounge, but said that this was even better.

  9. The transfer from Doha’s former Airport to Hamed International was constantly being delayed for one apparent reason or another. In comparison, I think Turkey have done pretty well.

  10. I am booked on a Aegean flight from Santorini to Ataturk via Athens on the 9 th June and flying out Singapore Airlines Ataturk/Singapore/Brisbane on the 12th June, my booking agent Flight Centre still unsure whether it will be the new Airport for both flights Arr/Dep? Can anyone help with some advice please? Tks

  11. Curious about the new lounge, 4pm/7pm layover on the 10th, should be plenty of time to enjoy it

  12. A Great Majestic move handled professionally and very talentedly by Turkish Airlines.

    About the 400 dead crap anti-Turkish government propaganda story, its a ridiculous and stupid number an oppositional anonymous said to mention in a stupid article that is written totally to slander the new airport.. So before writing some cheap lies as if its fact, please please get your facts right Ben.

    Besides the intl.media and opposition in Turkey is known to hate this Majestic project from even start. They told such lies you cannot comprehend. They might say millioj trees cut down.. yet the area was totally in no shape for decades as ‘it was a huge mining ground with holes and ponds thats caused by mining activities..

  13. I was just in the lounge. The food is exactly the same, there are no improvements there, but the ambiance and the freshness is taken to a whole new level. Its definitely the most beautiful airport in the world now.

  14. Captain Hollywood – I was highly skeptical of that number, but after reading your weird Erdogan cheerleader post, it’s suddenly become a lot more believable…

  15. My plane landed 2 hours after the new airport officially opened and I connected to a flight to Germany 2.5 hours later. I was not sure if my luggage was going to be transferred so I packed a carry on just in case. Everything went very well. Flights were on time. My luggage was transferred. The only thing that was not working well was TK’s computer systems. They were slow. The airport is simply gorgeous. It is very beautifully designed. It is huge. You may have to walk for 15-20 minutes from one gate to another. Only the TK business lounge was open. The star alliance lounge was not open. The workers said they will be identical. I think it makes sense because the lounge is not very big for the number of passengers who are expected to use the airport. I think the old lounge in Ataturk was more dramatic in terms of design. The new lounge has areas that feel like a speakeasy or a high end hotel lobby. Looking forward to Lucky’s review.

  16. Unfortunately it’s always political game when it comes to Turkey. Turkish opposition is more interested to serve interest of others countries. 34 died but rumors become “facts”. Allways something to observe Allways on a high moral horse always backbiting Allways looking down on other people. Allways on the look out who’s going to be your little puppy. Above all Allways jealous. All of tha from the people who have no history of tolerance towards other cultures

  17. Mehmed- that’s because even AKP politicians were uncomfortable with the level of vote fraud n the last election. Combine that with wholesale jailing of political opposition and journalists, suppression of free speech and its no wonder people denounce the current government!

    Look, you can claim it’s “fake news” and overseas biased opposition reporting all you want, but the facts are clear. And no amount of claiming “it’s bias” can refute the cases documented in the press. The era of making up lies to cover up government sins is over.

  18. Turkish Airlines have done an amazing job here to move their total operation from one place to another and so far bar a few small delays everything appears to be running smoothly.

    Compare that to British Airways moving into a new Terminal (5) on the same site as they were previously located and the days of chaos that ensued.

  19. The toll of life to build this airport has been high (and conflicting) indeed, which is a shame, because the facility itself is beautiful and well thought-out. We had a tour of the airport, the new lounge and the infrastructure last month for a press promo and it looked gorgeous – the facade and architectural style reminded me most closely of Chhatrapati Shivaji Int’l Airport of Mumbai.

  20. Anyone have any details on the transport links to and from the new IST airport? How long will it take to get there from Taksim/sultanahmet? What means of transport are currently available? How much will each cost and when the new metro line will open? The new airport is in the middle of nowhere and with Istanbul’s notorious traffic issues, it wouldn’t surprise me that we will be recommended to allow 3 hours to get there from Taksim. Ataturk, you may be getting old and tired but you will be dearly missed once you close down. Sabiha, you may be the most convenient alternative. Never thought I’d ever think that 🙁

  21. I flew into the old airport last week and flew out of the new one on Sunday, no issues. Didn’t get a chance to use any lounges. Couple of things U noted: The new building is absolutely massive and the lights lit up the night sky. A lot more walking to get places. Domestic and international flights are all in one building. There is a lack of sitting space other than at the gates. There were lots of employes there to answer questions. The workers in the stores inside seem to be new and in training, took them forever to ring me up at 2 different shops. The signage could be better. EVERYONE on my flight to JFK was given the SSS treatment. Overall was more or less smooth.

  22. @Karim. From Taksim it is a 45 min drive, cost me just about 100 Lira ($18) in a regular cab. Uber hasn’t updated their map so couldn’t find it as a destination, your best bet is a regular taxi. There is not much traffic that direction so it shouldn’t be an issue any time of day. It is smoother than old airport because old airport was over crowded. More walking though, which I hate. I don’t have any idea about the metro.

  23. @Karim

    You can easily reach to the Airport by Shuttle Buses from every corner of the Ist, 7/24..Here is the link to your answers: (Fares, Timetables, destinations, Stops etc.) http://www.hava.ist/en/

  24. Thanks Captain Hollywood! Is Havaist the only way? I’d heard that they were thinking of having a flat fee for taxis? Also havaist only takes istanbulkart as payment, I wonder if they will sell them at the airport and if you’ll be able to top up, otherwise, it’ll be difficult for tourists.

  25. @Callum

    Alright, then. Just read these links:

    This is the “original” news (400 dead) from the first source “Cumhuriyet”

    http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/924588/3._havalimani_mezarlik_gibi…_Hafriyat_kamyonu_soforu_anlatti__400_iscinin_olumu_gizlendi.html
    (I don’t know whether this link works outside Turkey)
    Alternatively: https://t24.com.tr/haber/3-havalimani-insaatinda-400-iscinin-olumu-gizlendi-iddiasi-sus-payi-400-bin-lira,557648

    Then, Think twice!

  26. @Karim

    Havaist ist the only bus Service but No Worries, Istanbulkart is being sold at the Bus Stop at IST. This card is essential for all Istanbul visitors. It can be used on Tram, Buses, ships, etc.

  27. Thanks very much! I used to hate taking the havas bus from Ataturk. Always overheated and crowded. I’m surprised a taxi costs 100 Lira. Costs almost that from Sisli to Ataturk. Be interesting to know how long it takes in rush hour because 45 min seems rather optimistic.

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