Istanbul New Third Airport: Making Turkey a Global Hub of Air Travel

For aviation fans, much of the hype this year is about the Istanbul New Third Airport. The four-phase project will not be complete until 2028, yet phrase one is set to open in 2018 cementing its roots as one of the most important hubs of leisure and business travel across the globe.

Set to serve 150 million passengers a year, estimates say the six-runway airport, will cost 11.3 billion USD to build. More than 200 airlines will fly from it to roughly 350 destinations around the world. The airport will also be a significant cargo centre, and in turn, change the face of international buying and selling.

Does Istanbul Really Need a New Airport?

Yes. Currently Istanbul, the largest, most populated and busiest city in Turkey is serviced by Sabiha Gokcen on the Asian side and Ataturk on the European.

However, over the last ten years, Turkey’s air industry has grown tremendously. According to a report by IATA, (International Air Transport Association), it contributes towards 6% of the country’s GDP.

This growth has been seen in the number of passengers passing through Ataturk airport, that in 2017 served 63.7 million air passengers, a massive increase from 2002 when it serviced just over 11 million passengers.

However, there is no more room for expansion because neighbourhoods and commercial districts already take up surrounding land. The airport, having first opened in 1912 was also in dire need of modernisation and increased security features.

Istanbul airport

Where is the Istanbul New Third Airport?

Covering nearly 10,000 hectares, the Istanbul New Third Airport sits on the Arnavutkoy district of European Istanbul, by the Black Sea. It’s just 35 kilometres away from the existing Istanbul Ataturk that will eventually close after all operations have been transferred over.

Architects of the Main Terminal

In 2014, an international team of architects unveiled plans for the terminal. They said it would be highly functional, modern and draw on the inspiration of Istanbul. Including a unique sense of space, it will be the largest terminal and duty-free area in the world.

Lead by the Grimshaw Architectural firm in London, other architects joining the design project includes the Norwegian firm Nordic and the London firm Haptic. Grimshaw is also leading the way for a modernisation project of Heathrow, while Nordic has worked on many airport expansions and designs including Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, Rajiv to name but a few.

Architects say the airport will feature a mixture of European and oriental trends. A 75-foot-high vaulted ceiling will include circular openings for as much natural light as possible and also ensure it has a “clear identity.”

Main terminal Istanbul airport

A Tulip Air Traffic Control Tower

While the eyes of the world are on the main terminal, the control tower is naturally crucial for operations. Looking like a building from a sci-fi film, IGA, the developers, choose a design by AECOM and Pininfarina, after holding an international competition that saw six other entries.

Their design ticked all the boxes that would make the control tower, an iconic structure seen by all passengers passing through. Combining modern architecture with traditional features was a huge task but the team delivered with a tulip designed building. The tulip is a sign of Turkish heritage, as reflected in the 18th century Ottoman tulip era.

Istanbul airport control tower

A Modern Airport City

Additionally, the airport will also include a 1700-hectare city of which the Perkins and Wills architectural firm who have many offices around the world are responsible for. They say it will be an economic, cultural and social hub that will complement the airport. Buildings will include hotels, offices, retail shops, an expo centre, mosque, underground car parking, convention hall as well as metro and rail connections to the rest of Istanbul.

Smooth Operations and State of the Art Technology

Naturally, to live up to mass hype and be an efficient airport, the Istanbul New Third Airport must feature ultramodern technology. The aim is to ensure that each passenger’s journey from check-in to boarding in departures and luggage collection in arrivals is quick and stress-free.

Drawing on inspiration from other airports around the world, developers have implemented biometric screening and bag drop technology will also be a crucial feature of check-in, while Beacon and GPS technology installed into 3000 monitors will show walking times to gates, display boarding alerts and give directions around the massive terminal.

Other technology devices include virtual reality, smart kiosks and shopping carts, 3D holograms, social media, queue management as well as a specially designed airport app for stress-free travel.

You may also be interested in…

Mega Projects of Turkey: Istanbul New Third Airport is just one of many mega projects that Turkey has plans for, including a new canal through European Istanbul as well as a financial centre that is set to rival New York.

2023 Vision Plan of Turkey: Turkey’s mega-projects are part of the larger 2023 vision plan that aims to make the country one of the top ten economies in the world.


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