Istanbul's Airport is now open. At least - part of it is. Unveiled on the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, the new facility on the shores of the Black Sea, in the north of Istanbul will host limited flights until the new year, when service will be ramped up.
By 2030, the US$11 billion facility is set to host 200 million passengers each year, making it the largest airport in the world by capacity. To put that in perspective, the current largest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, handled 103 million passengers last year.
Why does Istanbul need a new airport?
While Istanbul's visitor numbers are growing, the country is also at the gateway of Europe and Asia. With 120 countries within a three-hour flight of Istanbul, the city and is becoming a vital hub for trade and business, as well as tourism. Last year, Ataturk Airport, the city's chief gateway, saw 63 million arrivals, making the airport the 15th busiest in the world. Turkey's flagship carrier, Turkish Airlines, offers flights to 104 countries - more than any other airline. The new airport was necessary to invest in Turkey's future as a trade and tourism destination, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
We look at the numbers behind Turkey's latest megaproject:
- two: runways, rising to six by 2030.
- 100: airlines operating
- 114: gates over three terminals.
- 228: passport control desks
- 350: destinations
- 9000 CCTV cameras
- 20,000: seats
- 40,000: carparks
- 100,000: square metres of retail space, roughly seven football pitches worth of shops.
- 76 million: the airport's size in square metres - as large as the city of Leicester.
- 90 million: annual passenger capacity during its first few years of service.
- 200 million: capacity expected by 2030, when all phases will be complete.
Erdogan said the new facility - which is yet to be named - said the airport was a "monument to victory."
"Istanbul is not only our largest city," he said to a large crowd on opening day, "It is our most important brand. It’s a beautiful jewel between two seas. It can be compared to the sun of this earth."
He added that many doubted it could be built when it was first mooted. "We have completed this project," he said, "and we are officially launching the first stage. We did not build the Istanbul airport for our country. It is a great service we are offering to the region and the world."
The airport is just one of several megaprojects Erdogan is pushing, to make Turkey a world power andglobal economic force.
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