By Ifeanyi Onyia
Istanbul’s three airports saw the number of passengers increase by nearly 1.55 million year-on-year in 2019, according to General Directorate of State Airports Authority’s (DHMİ) data released Sunday. During this period, the airports hosted approximately 6% of all flights in Europe.
The newly released figures showed that Istanbul Airport, Atatürk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport hosted some 104.1 million, including 38.4 million domestic and 65.8 million international, passengers last year.
Istanbul’s airports had hosted 102.6 million passengers in 2018.
Over the last year, nearly 52.6 million passengers, including 12.7 million domestic passengers and 39.9 million international travelers, used the new Istanbul Airport.
Rising from the outskirts of Turkey’s most populous city, perched firmly on the shores of the Black Sea, the airport was officially opened on Oct. 29, 2018, coinciding with the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
However, its first phase became fully operational on April 7, as it took over the air traffic from the now-closed Atatürk Airport.
A success story in its own right, the transition was said to be the greatest logistical operation in civil aviation history. Thousands of tons of equipment, from huge aircraft-towing vehicles to extremely sensitive materials, were ferried across the city.
The new airport can handle 90 million passengers per year in its current phase of development, which, while a high figure, is nothing compared to its planned capacity to serve up to 200 million passengers after the completion of all four phases and the construction of six runways, scheduled to be completed by 2028. It will be home to more than 100 airlines flying to over 300 destinations around the world.
Last year, over 16 million passengers traveled to and from Atatürk Airport, which has transitioned to other uses such as training activities, aviation fairs and civil use, while some parts are to be transformed into a public park. The airport had served 4.2 million passengers on domestic flights and 11.8 million on international lines.
Located on the city’s Asian side, Sabiha Gökçen Airport, which has been increasing its operations every year, hosted 35.5 million passengers in 2019, including 21.4 million passengers on domestic flights and 14 million passengers on international flights.
At Atatürk Airport, 138,239 flights were made in 2019, including 38,818 domestic and 99,421 international flights.
In the same period, 235,072 flights, including 135,161 domestic and 99,911 international flights, were made to and from Sabiha Gökcen Airport, according to the statistics.
At Istanbul Airport, a total of 329,799 flights were performed, including 82,325 domestic and 247,474 on international flights.
Last year, a total of 703,110 flights, including 256,304 on domestic and 446,806 on international flights, were organized at Istanbul’s airports.
The total air traffic at the three airports in 2019 increased by 5,414 flights, up from 697,696 flights in 2018.
According to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL), an international organization working to achieve safe and seamless air traffic management across Europe, a total of 11.1 million flights were made in Europe last year, while around 6% of the flights performed on this continent were to and from Istanbul’s airports.