ISTANBUL – Last weekend – on Saturday morning – Turkish Airlines Flight TK54 took off for the last time from Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The Boeing 777-300ER departed at 2.00 AM with 319 passengers and 18 crew members onboard for Singapore. As a result, the largest relocation in aviation history has been successfully completed. Istanbul Atatürk Airport served as the home base airport of Turkish Airlines for 86 years and is now replaced by the brand new Istanbul Airport.
The last flight from Atatürk Airport was waved off with a ceremony in the presence of Turkish Airlines’ board chairman İlker Aycı.
The big move from Atatürk Airport to the new airport of Istanbul was a mega-operation for Turkish Airlines, which took 45 hours and was completed on Saturday at 11:59 PM.
Atatürk Airport and Istanbul Airport have been closed since 2:00 AM on Sunday. The flights resumed at 2:00 PM from Istanbul Airport when a Turkish Airlines flight departed for the Turkish capital Ankara.
All other airlines also fly from the new airport from then on. The new airport takes over the IATA-code ‘IST’ from Atatürk Airport, while the old airport will use the code ‘ISL’.
Istanbul Airport was officially opened in October last year, but due to delays during construction, the full commissioning of the airport had to wait another 6 months, until last weekend. The old Atatürk Airport will now be used for cargo and VIP flights only.
Istanbul New Airport – also known as Istanbul Grand Airport – initially offers a capacity of 90 million passengers. That is considerably more than Atatürk Airport, which means that home carrier Turkish Airlines has the possibility and space to grow.
The airport remains under construction with an annual passenger capacity of 150 million – after completion of its last planned expansion stage – while future expansion would allow it to handle up to 200 million annual passengers if required. ‘IST’ will eventually become the largest airport in the world.
The Turkish government wants the airport to be the hub in air traffic between Europe, Asia and Africa.