Istanbul New Airport

The new airport was built about 22 miles (35 km) northwest of the city, on the European side of Istanbul. It was built mainly due to the lack of space for further expansion of the existing Atatürk Airport. The aging airport is overloaded, so it has ceased to meet needs and ambitions of the rapidly growing Turkish Airlines.

Istanbul - Atatürk Airport
Istanbul New Airport

Grand opening of the airport coincided with the celebrations of the 95th anniversary of Turkey becoming a Republic. The airport was opened on October 29, 2018. Its official name – confirmed on the opening day by President Erdogan – is “Istanbul New Airport”. However, the full launch of the airport and its final expansion were spread over time for 10 years.

In the phase one (October – December’18) of the New Airport, there were launched two operational runways and two local airlines. By December 2018 both airports (“New Airport” and Atatürk Airport) will operate simultaneously. At the end of 2018, the third operational runway will be opened there. In the same time, the currently operating Atatürk Airport will be closed. At this point, the new airport will have the world’s largest single roofed terminal, with an area of 15 million square feet. It is also estiamted to have a capacity of 90 million passengers per year. It will officially complete phase one of the construction works.

Istanbul New Airport. Next stages of the expansion.

In the following stages of the airport development, among others, there will be road infrastructure built: two metro lines, a motorway and rapid train. The railway line will connect Istanbul New Airport with the Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Anatolian side of the city.

By 2028, the new airport is going to operate with 6 runways and its annual capacity is estimated at 200 million passengers. Is it possible? As a comparison – in 2017 the Atatürk Airport reached the result of 64 million passengers. The current largest airport in the world – Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, in 2017 had 104 million passengers passing through its terminal. It seems, therefore, that plans for the development of the new airport in Istanbul are very ambitious. The New Airport will occupy an area of approximately 76 thousand square kilometres, which (as a comparison) will be larger than the area of Manhattan Island (56 km2).

When the new airport is completed – it will be the largest one in the world with an unimaginable network of connections to over 300 destinations.

Istanbul New Airport
Istanbul airplain view


Istanbul – New Airport. Architecture and ecology.

The new airport’s terminal was built in a style reminiscent of traditional Istanbul’s domed mosques and baths. Shape of the air traffic control tower, which is inspired by the tulip flower, also deserves recognition. The tulip is one of the most recognizable traditional symbols of Istanbul. Name of the flower is derived from the Turkish word “tulbent” meaning turban. During the Ottoman Empire, the tulip was a symbol of sultan’s power. The air traffic control tower project won first prize in the “Future projects – Infrastructure” category at the 2016 World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

The Istanbul New Airport calls itself a “green” airport, thanks to the possibilities of recycling and the use of rainwater. However, it is worth remembering that the construction of the airport was accompanied by massive deforestation. In this case – question whether the balance in nature will be kept is still unanswered.

Istanbul – New Airport. How to get there?

Currently (end of 2018), there are not many possibilities. The new airport can be reached by car via highway or by bus. Bus connections are served by city lines (yellow buses) and by private lines (white buses).

Istanbul New AirportCity buses (line H-2, H-3 and IST-7) will take passengers to:

  • H-2 Mecidiyeköy, business district
  • H-3 Halikali. There is easternmost railway station of Istanbul, serving the international routes i.e. to Bucharest, Sofia and Belgrade
  • IST-7 runs between the Istanbul New Airport and the current Atatürk Airport

Private buses will drive to:

  •  IST-1 Yenikapi in Fatih district, on the European side of the Bosphorus.  Over the Golden Horn bay, there is a transfer port and the Marmaray Train station
  • IST -2 Tuyap, where the Congress Center is located
  • IST-7 residential area of Kozyatagi on the Anatolian side of the city
  • IST-19 -Taksim Square on the European part of the Istanbul

Current estimated journey time from Istanbul New Airport to the city center will take us about 60-90 minutes with low traffic jams.  Unfortunately, during rush hours it can take you even more than 120 minutes.

Taxi from the New Airport to the Istanbul city center can cost you about 200 TL (38 $).

Istanbul - new airport

Istanbul – New Airport. Under contructions.

Althought the New Airport has been partially opened, there are still heavy contructions works happening inside. What was recently open for travelers, it is still an empty area. Most stores remain closed, at this moment there is only a small duty free shop open now. For more convenient airport experience we will have to wait at least for few more weeks.

Edit: November’2018

Istanbul – New Airport. Ongoing technical issue.

At the end of December 18, REUTERS wrote that according to Turkish Milliyet newspaper, the new Istanbul airport will be fully operational only as of 3rd of March 2019. This is the second official date of opening the airport, after the first one scheduled at the turn of December and January – did not happen. Delays are mainly caused by technical issues. For example, from the social media, you can learn, that during a large rain, a roof over the passenger terminal leaks and water floods the car parking.

All defects must be eliminated on time, otherwise the full opening of the airport again will not happen according to the scheduled date.

Last edit: January’2019