New Istanbul Airport operations delayed to March 2019

The new Istanbul Airport opened on schedule on October 29, 2018 with great fanfare – but few flights! Since President Erdogan cut the ribbon, only 5 daily return flights on domestic routes have been flying to test the new airport, while thousands of workers scramble to complete it! After initially being rescheduled to take over operations from the current Ataturk Istanbul Airport by December 31, 2018, operations have been rescheduled again to March 2019. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another Berlin-Airport-Saga!

I was so excited to try out the new Istanbul Airport with its fantastic new lounge on my Christmas trip this year on Turkish Airlines. My excitement turned to worry, when airport operations were delayed to the year end, as my outbound flight is in mid-December and the return flight in early January. That still gave me a chance to check out the new terminal and lounge on my return flight in January. But those hopes have been squashed – international flights won’t move to the new airport before March 2019!

Going forward the new airport with its 3 runways will serve 90 million passengers in its first stages and will be expanded over the years to 6 runways, four terminals with 233 aircraft parking positions and 225,000 employees, serving 200 million passengers. That’ll make it a contender for largest airport in the world.

This move involves 10s of thousands of employees, thousands of trucks moving equipment, all on a tight schedule orchestrated by the operators. All current flights, equipment and employees are scheduled to move within a 48 hour time frame, with flights depending on it going successfully. Munich Airport pulled of a similar move like clockwork decades ago, but the delays at Berlin Airport have been legendary. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Istanbul will be more like Munich than Berlin. My review of the terminal and lounge will have to wait till my next flight on Turkish Airlines in the future!

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