In Short: The switch from LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport has effectively been postponed until the end of the year. LTFM will “officially” open on Oct 29, but it will only be available to Turkish carriers – everyone else will have to wait until Dec 30 before they can start using it.
Istanbul’s new mega-airport which has been plagued by construction issues and delays is set to officially launch operations on October 29, 2018, to coincide with Turkish National Day celebrations. The problem is, the airport is not quite ready yet.
There have been huge protests from workers at the new airport, which has led to over 400 people being detained. The protests were centered around improved safety measures, more shuttle buses, and better working conditions. 27 workers have died since construction on the airport started in 2015. Work subsequently resumed, with a heavy police presence, according to labor unions.
Authorities initially said that all scheduled airline and charter flights would have to switch over from using LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport on October 29. But last week they published AIC 07/18 which pushes that date back to December 30.
So although the official launch date for LTFM/Istanbul New Airport is still October 29, the only scheduled airline flights which will be allowed to operate there from that date will be Turkish carriers. It’s been reported that Turkish Airlines will fly from the new airport to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya on domestic routes, with the only international route being to Baku, in Azerbaijan.
Then on December 31 at 2100Z, all the other airlines and charter operators can start using LTFM/Istanbul New Airport. At this time, LTBA/Istanbul Atatürk will be closed to all scheduled airline and charter flights, but will remain open for general aviation and business flights.
So that’s good news for GA/BA! There’s nothing to say that you can’t use the new airport, but it’s quite a way out of town (39km/24 miles) when compared to the old one.
Into the future there is talk about the old airport becoming a park, but there are still no firm plans for that yet, according to the FBO reps we spoke to on the ground.
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