Turkish Airlines has confirmed it will transfer operations from its current hub at Istanbul Atatürk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport on April 6.

The new airport, which began partial operations Oct. 29, 2018, had planned to be completely open March 3.

The relocation begins 03:00 am local time April 5 and should be concluded April 6 at 23:59 local time.

To accommodate the operations switchover, Atatürk and Istanbul airports will be closed for all scheduled passenger flights between 02:00 a.m. and 02:00 p.m. local time April 6 for 12 hrs.

The last passenger flight from Ataturk will be operated to Singapore.

The first flight from the new airport will be to Turkey’s capital Ankara.

The number of flights from the new Istanbul Airport will gradually increase in stages, according to a set plan.

Turkish Airlines chairman of the board and executive committee Ilker Ayci called the process “the biggest move in aviation history.” He said, “The combined size of the equipment we are going to transfer would cover 33 football pitches.”

During the move, equipment weighing approximately 47,300 tons will be carried by trucks to Istanbul from Atatürk in a 45-hour period. 

Following the first stage, additional passenger flights operated via Istanbul Airport will be listed with the IATA airport code ISL.

After the relocation is completed, IATA codes will change and from April 6 at 03:00, Atatürk’s current IATA code IST will be given to the new Istanbul Airport.

Atatürk Airport, which will remain open for cargo and VIP passenger flights, will then use the ISL code.

ATW understands that Turkish Airlines’ major maintenance hangars will remain at Atatürk Airport, making ferry flights between the two airports necessary.

The new airport’s initial capacity will be 90 million passengers annually, with the potential to grow to 200 million through a series of expansions by 2030.

The first phase of the airport was completed in 42 months and includes a 1.3 million sq m terminal and two runways.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at