Transport Airports

Istanbul plans on building the world’s largest airport, but Dubai will beat it to the punch

Jan 24, 2013 9:17 am

Skift Take

Bolstered by Turkish Airlines’ growth, Istanbul is looking to scrap its two inadequate airports, a problem similar to that which plagued Berlin. One can only hope Berlin’s stalled openings don’t repeat themselves here.

— Samantha Shankman

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EK056  / Flickr

Turkish Airlines populates the gates at Istanbul Atatürk Airport. EK056 / Flickr

Plans to build the world’s largest airport, at a cost of $5.6 billion, have been unveiled by authorities in Turkey.

The six-runway hub will be constructed on 77 million square metres of land near Istanbul, and will have a capacity of 150 million passengers a year – 60 million more than Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, currently the busiest in the world.

The airport will be built in four stages. The first will be completed in 2017, after which it will be operational with an annual capacity of 90 million, according to Turkey’s transport minister, Binali Yildirim.

“It is obvious a new airport is needed,” he said, adding that the plans would help boost the country’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Currently Istanbul has two airports, Ataturk, which handles around 45 million passengers a year, and Sabiha, which handles 15 million.

It will also allow Turkish Airlines to further expand its operations. The carrier already flies to 216 destinations, fewer than only five other airlines around the world (United, Delta, American, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa).

Several other grand construction projects are planned for the city, including a high-speed train to Ankara, a third bridge over the Bosphorus, and a redesign of Taksim Square.

Other large airports currently under construction include a new hub for Dubai, scheduled to open next year with a capacity for around 160 million passengers, and one in Beijing, which will be capable of handling 130 million.

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