Istanbul Airport hosts 40 million visitors in first year since opening

More than 40 million passengers have travelled through Istanbul’s new airport since its opening last year, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency quoted Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turan as saying on Monday.

The figures are lower than those last year for Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, which was decommissioned as the city’s main airport in April when the new airport opened.

In its last full year in operation in 2018, some 68 million passengers passed through Atatürk Airport, according to data from Turkey’s State Airport Authority.

The new airport was given a soft opening in Oct. 2018 due to serious delays, before becoming fully operational in April.

Many see the project – a trademark giant infrastructure project backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – as an unnecessary endeavour that has placed strain on Turkey’s economy while also severely damaging the environment.

Since the airport opened, a series of flights redirected due to weather conditions has added weight to aviation experts’ concerns that its location could prove unsuitable for an airport of its size.

But with the third runway of six near completion, Istanbul Airport is on its way to being the world’s largest. Turkey’s government estimates that the airport will be able to host some 200 million passengers per year once fully complete, with its date of completion scheduled in 2028.