Turkey Celebrates 95th Anniversary By Unveiling ‘World’s Largest Airport’
By Sharelle Burt
The country of Turkey is raising the bar on how an airport should look.
To celebrate the country’s 95th anniversary as a republic, the city of Istanbul introduced the first phase of their new airport on Monday. Standing 22 miles north of the city center, the new airport includes two operational runways and 15 million square feet of terminal space. In December, a third runway will open to complete the first of four phases.
“Istanbul is not only our largest city,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to The Independent. “It is our most important brand. It’s a beautiful jewel between two seas. It can be compared to the sun of this earth.” The newly unveiled airport will be called Istanbul Airport.
Set to be completely finished in 2028, the airport is taking over for the country’s current airport, Atatürk International Airport, which was being overloaded with 64 million passengers last year. The new flight hub will be 29.5 square miles long, which is larger than the entire island of Manhattan. With six runways, it will be able to accommodate up to 200 million travelers per year, making it the busiest airport in the world. Look out, Atlanta. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport currently holds that title, accommodating 104 million passengers passing through in 2017.
It doesn’t look like Atatürk Airport will be put to rest very soon. As all flights were initially meant to be transferred to the new airport, reports say only a limited number of regional flights from Turkish Airlines will begin to arrive this week, with the full move not happening until the end of December. After the complete transfer, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanthe said the aging airport will be turned into a public park called the “People’s Garden.”
The pretty airport was designed to mimic the style of Istanbul’s domed mosques and baths, while the air traffic control tower’s shape is inspired by a tulip, a traditional symbol for Istanbul. Another key feature is the new Yotel, with 451 pod-like rooms located in the main terminal. Set to open later this year, this will be the fifth airport hotel, with matching properties already in play at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Amsterdam Schiphol, and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
Costing close to $12 billion, the new project was met with tons of scrutiny. Tens of thousands of workers were scrambling to finish the airport to meet the Oct. 29 deadline. Protests started in September after reports of poor working conditions and dozens of construction deaths were brought to light. A New York Times piece also stated that while villagers were “shoved off” their land to make room for the airport, many of the construction companies working on the project have close ties to President Erdoğan.