Turkey’s newest airport, planned to be the world’s largest, has been officially opened in Istanbul.

Istanbul Airport will be capable of handling up to 90 million passengers by 2021, with further expansion leading to a total capacity of up to 200 million.

That would be almost double the capacity of the world’s busiest airport last year, Atlanta.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially opened the airport on Monday to coincide with the 95th anniversary of modern Turkey’s foundation, and the associated public holiday, Republic Day.

Istanbul's new landmark airport set to be world's busiest
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign dignitaries attend an inauguration ceremony for a new aviation hub in Istanbul on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 (AP Photo)

The $12bn (£9.4bn) project has been spearheaded under Mr Erdoğan’s government, which envisions Istanbul becoming a global transit hub between Asia, Africa and Europe

Istanbul’s existing Atatürk Airport will continue to operate as normal until the end of the year, when it will transfer its international code – IST – as its replacement begins to ramp up its capacity.

At the initial phase, five takeoffs and five landings will take place at the airport. Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) made the first flight to Turkish capital Ankara on Oct. 31. The airline company will fly to Turkish resort town Antalya on Nov.1 and to Izmir on Nov. 2 with first international flight to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Nov. 1 and to Azerbaijan on Nov. 8.

It is expected that by the end of the year, 2,000 flights (from over 250 carriers) will go through the airport to over 350 destinations every day.

The new airport is expected to reach its 90-million capacity by 2021; be upgraded to 150 million by 2023; and reach its goal of a 200-million passenger capacity by 2028.

Turkish authorities plan to move all operations from one city airport to another in the space of a day – currently scheduled for the end of December.

Istanbul's new landmark airport set to be world's busiest
Photograph courtesy of İGA

World’s largest duty-free shopping complex

Istanbul’s new airport will also be home to the world’s largest duty-free shopping complex. The 53,000 square meter shopping complex will consist of six sections, including luxury stores and bazaar concepts.

After that, Atatürk airport would be closed to passenger traffic, and continue as a private airfield until its current lease expires in 2021.

Istanbul’s other, smaller airport, Sabiha Gökçen, is expected to remain operational into the foreseeable future.

For more information about the Istanbul New Airport visit igairport.com

Sources: Daily Sabah/BBC/İGAAirports

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