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 ageing airport is overloaded, so it has ceased to meet the needs and ambitions of the rapidly growing Turkish Airlines.
The 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 an opening day by President Erdogan – is “Istanbul New Airport”. However, the full launch of the airport and its final expansion were spread overtime for 10 years.
In 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 estimated 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.
Architecture and ecology
The new airport’s terminal was built in a style reminiscent of traditional Istanbul’s domed mosques and baths. The 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.
Although the New Airport has been partially opened, there are still heavy construction works happening inside. What was recently open for travellers, it is still an empty area. Most stores remain closed, at this moment there is only a small duty-free shop open now. For a more convenient airport experience, we will have to wait at least for a few more weeks.
Edit: November 2018
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.
Edit: January 2019
New opening date
The latest official announcement says, that people flying to the Istanbul during few coming weeks (as of the end of February’19) should make sure to reconfirm which of the Istanbul airports their flight will be landing and taking off. The Turkish Airlines has already moved few local connections to the newly built Istanbul Airport, but not yet the International flights. The new airport was supposed to be fully operating as of 3rd of March, but this date has been moved forward again, and it is 5th of April now.
From the moment when the new Istanbul airport facility is fully checked and functional, the current Ataturk Airport will stop to operate and will not be used any longer. That is planned to take a place as of 7th of April. The current IATA airport code IST will be assigned to the new airport as well, so that will close the Ataturk Airport operational history.
Last edit: February 2019
The Great Move is Beginning!
Today, on the main Istanbul Airport website, there is a new statement displayed: “The Great Move is Beginning! The relocation operation from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport will be carried out between 5 April 2019 3:00 a.m. and 7 April 2019 12:00 midnight (GMT + 3). Our passengers should contact the relevant airlines’ company for details about their flight”.
I hope this time everything will go according to the schedule!
Last edit: 05th of April, 2019
The new airport is now open!
Yes, the new airport has been operating for several months. I have several photos of what it looked like a few weeks after the opening.
Several proposals have already appeared on the market regarding airport pickup. Below you can find the latest offer I found. It seems to be very attractive in price, that’s why I’m writing about it. You may be interested in this transport option.
Guide to the IST airport terminal
The national airlines – Turkish Airlines have prepared a new information leaflet for their passengers. We can find out what the new Istanbul Airport layout looks like on the level of arrivals and departures. It’s worth to check it upfront.
At the Departure level, there are several entrances to the airport, which are intended for various types of passengers. For example, there are two gates that are the closest to the domestic Turkish airlines’ gates. There are also gates suggested being used by the international flight’s passengers and other gates for VIP clients or business class passengers.
On the Arrival level, there are, among others: bus stops, parking lots, taxi and tourist information points. Beware: the airport car park is free of charge until 15th of April!
More detailed map of the New Istanbul Airport can be found as well on the New IST Airport website.
How to get to IST Airport – public transport
Currently (end of 2018), there are not many possibilities. The new airport can be reached by car via a highway or by bus. Bus connections are served by city lines (yellow buses) and by private lines (white buses).
- H-2 Mecidiyeköy, business district
- H-3 Halikali. There is an 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 centre 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 centre can cost you about 200 TL (38 $).
How to get to IST Airport – private offer
Here are a few possibilities to travel from the airport. Click any link below or picture and you can buy all below tickets with 5% discount!
From and to IST Airport. Shuttle service is available daily FROM 6:00 a.m to 1:15 a.m. HAVAIST Online Ticket is an electronic ticket for an airport shuttle bus. Buses leave the airport every 30 minutes.
The price of a one-way ticket is 5$.
- Don’t wait in line, get the HAVAIST Bus ticket online
- Comfortable journey in luxury buses departing every 45 minutes
- Free WiFi, unlimited luggage, free e-booklet and 10% off at tours & tickets
There are several routes in the offer. There are also several stops on each route, so you can get off or get on each of them.
Line HVIST-12 to BEYAZIT SQUARE – Sultanahmet (Former line IST-20)
Transfer time: 100 minutes and 6 Stops
- ISTANBUL AIRPORT
- BEYAZIT SQUARE
Line HVIST-14 to Taksim SQUARE
Transfer time: 90 minutes and 5 Stops
- ISTANBUL AIRPORT
- 4. LEVENT
- ZINCIRLIKUYU METROBUS STATION
- BESIKTAS PIER
- TAKSIM SQUARE
Line HVIST-9 to KADIKOY – METRO & PIER – Asian Side
Transfer time: 100 minutes and 4 Stops
- ISTANBUL AIRPORT
- KAVACIK BRIDGE
- ACIBADEM METRO
- KADIKOY METRO & PIER
[IST] to Hotel or Airport
- Istanbul Airport private transfer from 6,50 Euro per person
- Price is valid for all transfers to hotels at the European Side
- Service available 24/7
- Carefree journey, no hidden costs, nobody beats our price!
If you are 6 you pay only 6,50 Euro per person
If you are 4 you pay only 9,75 Euro per person
If you are 2 you pay only 19,50 Euro per person
- The convenient way to get to your hotel for a fair price
- The shared shuttle transfer is departing every hour
- Relax in the comfortable minibus and enjoy door to door service
- Unlimited luggage
Last edit: Sept 2020
Turkey – my other posts
I also encourage you to read my other posts about Istanbul, Cappadocia and Turkey: