Turkey ready to unveil mega airport, an Asia-Europe hub

Business | 29 Oct 2018 1:54 pm

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held plenty of grand opening ceremonies in his 15 years at Turkey’s helm.

Today, he will unveil one of his prized jewels — Istanbul New Airport — a megaproject that has been dogged by concerns about labor rights, environmental issues and Turkey’s weakening economy.

Erdogan is opening what he claims will eventually become the world’s largest air transport hub on the 95th anniversary of Turkey’s establishment as a republic. It’s a symbolic launch, as only limited flights will begin days later and a full move won’t take place until the end of the year.

Tens of thousands of workers have been scrambling to finish the airport to meet Erdogan’s October 29 deadline. Protests in September over poor working conditions and dozens of construction deaths have highlighted the human cost of the project.

Istanbul New Airport, on shores of the Black Sea, will serve 90 million passengers annually in its first phase. At its completion in ten years, it will occupy nearly 19,000 acres and serve up to 200 million travelers a year with six runways. That’s almost double the traffic at world’s biggest airport currently, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

"This airport is going to be the most important hub between Asia and Europe,” Kadri Samsunlu, head of the 5-company consortium Istanbul Grand Airport, told reporters Thursday.

The airport’s interiors nod to Turkish and Islamic designs and its tulip-shaped air traffic control tower won the 2016 International Architecture Award. It also uses mobile applications and artificial intelligence for customers, is energy efficient and boasts a high-tech security system.-AP

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