Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pressing to establish Turkey as a hub of international air travel throughout the time he has been in office. Yesterday was the soft opening of the world biggest international airport – the Istanbul New Airport, and the President himself cut the ribbons. The day of the inauguration ceremony directly coincided with the 95th Turkish Independence day celebrations, giving the Turkish President a political boost.
The new airport has a price tag of 900 million pounds and covers a land area of about six thousand hectares. The soft opening is going to be followed by a ‘hard opening’ on the 29th of December 2018, when all the essential machinery, furniture, and customs equipment from the now old Attaturk Airport would be moved quickly overnight to the new airport, for the flight operations to continue as smoothly as possible. The airport cannot be switched on like a light bulb, and so for the next one year, there is going to be a gradual increase in the air traffic heading to the Istanbul New Airport.
By December of 2019, the airport would be at optimum capacity and processing up to 200 million passengers a year. This move would gravitate many passengers away from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha that have been serving for decades as the international hubs for flights moving between Europe, Africa and Asia. Istanbul has a much better climate as compared to Doha and Dubai, a vibrant culture and a growing influence in the countries of the European Union. The new airport is sure to amass a large chunk of the international travel market, provoking some passengers to get out and explore the green and beautiful Istanbul. Istanbul New Airport – which has yet to be named definitively– will be fully functional by the year 2028.
Turkish Airlines is sure to expand its web of the direct flights to even further corners of the world, and it is already the largest airline with respect to the number of international destinations served. Dubai, however, is not ready to give up its seat on the throne just yet. The Dubai World Central International Airport has already opened its doors on a limited level and will be completed in 2020. If all things go as planned Dubai South Airport, as it has come to be known, will be the single largest international airport both in respect of size and passenger volume.
The airline wars are about to start in a significant way, especially after 2020. This means competitive prices would drive down the cost of travel, making air travel even more affordable.