posted on 12th March 2019
Istanbul Airport (IST)
Passenger capacity = 90 million
Cargo capacity = 4.5 million tonnes
Passenger boarding bridges = 143

Istanbul Airport started full passenger operations on 3 March with the airport replacing the city’s main capacity-stretched hub Istanbul Atatürk Airport which is now closed for schedule flights and only taking freighter traffic.
The new €7.4 billion gateway was opened “softly” on 29 October last year by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and until now it has only been operated by Turkish Airlines who has been operating a few domestic and international routes.
Initially, Istanbul Airport can handle 90 million passengers per annum (mppa) and 4.5 million tonnes of cargo, but will be developed further in phases with the aim of having capacity for 200mppa. Investment will continue and rise to €10.5 billion once all phases are completed.
All airlines operate in one terminal and two runways are open initially. The plan is to add a third runway in 16 months, taking the passenger capacity to 135mppa – double the capacity of Ataturk.
After other development phases take place it will eventually see another terminal added, with six runways possible and capacity for 150-200mppa sometime from 2026-28.
In phase one, the airport is spread over 41.5 million square metres, compared to capacity-stretched Ataturk which it has replaced and covers only 12 million square metres and handles 64mppa.
The area Istanbul Airport covers compares to 12 million square metres at Heathrow Airport, 21 million square metres at Frankfurt Airport, 20 million square metres Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and 19 million square metres at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport – the world’s busiest airport for passenger traffic.
There are 143 passenger boarding bridges in phase one, with 114 narrow-body aircraft able to operate at the terminal at any one time, and there is 15 dedicated Airbus A380 stands.
A metro line into Istanbul city centre is under construction and will start operating from Istanbul Airport until sometime in 2020, but for now a bus network will be run, shuttling 100,000 passengers a day to the airport.
The operator IGA believes it will not take long for it to break the 100 million passengers a year mark, predicting within five years and the target is 200 million within 10 years of opening as Turkey is aiming to be ninth biggest country for passengers in 15 years.
IGA has the concession to run the airport for 25 years when it will be handed back to the government. As part of the deal it will pay the Turkish government €1 billion a year.
Istanbul’s other airport is Sabiha-Gocken Airport which primarily handles the services of low-cost carriers like Pegasus Airlines and easyJet.