New Istanbul Airport prepares for full opening

posted on 13th December 2018

Most passenger flights and cargo bellyhold activities are scheduled to switch from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Istanbul New Airport from January 2019

Most passenger flights and cargo bellyhold activities are scheduled to switch from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Istanbul New Airport from January 2019, following the official launch on 29 October of what will subsequently be known simply as ‘Istanbul Airport’, although freighter flights will remain at Atatürk until late next year.
The ambitious airport project promises to become the largest in the world, with a 150 million annual passenger capacity in its last planned expansion stage, while remaining upgradable to handle 200 million annual passengers if required in the future. The new airport’s cargo handling capacity is expected to be around 6 million tonnes annually, including 4 million tonnes of capacity for home carrier Turkish Cargo.
But like many major airport projects, its opening has been delayed. Although a small number of Turkish Airlines’ passenger flights have transferred from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to the new airport following the official opening on 29 October, most of Turkish Airlines’ and other carriers’ passenger flights are due to transfer from Atatürk in the new year. And Turkish Cargo’s freighter flights are set to remain at Atatürk for most of 2019, with the company operating a split operation for around a year, trucking cargo between the two airports, because of delays in completing some of the new airport’s cargo facilities. CAAS understands that the new cargo terminal could not be completed in time due to the late delivery of the land by the construction company.
Nevertheless, when completed it seems set to be a world-class facility and a significant improvement on the facilities at Atatürk. Turkish Cargo’s Mega Hub will cover an area of 165,000 sqm, with a capacity of 2 million tonnes per year available at the end of the first phase construction, rising to 4 million tonnes per year with the completion of second-phase construction. The company has designed it with the capability to handle various differentiated services, with “diversified special cargo areas and more quality and lean processes for the special product groups”.

Artificial intelligence
Turkish Cargo says the new Mega Hub will be the first air cargo terminal in which artificial intelligence is integrated into the operational processes and its automated handling systems: the PCHS (Pallet Control Handling System), for the storage and transfer of ULDs that are ready to go to the aircraft; and the ASRS (Automatic Storage and Retrieval System), used to automatically store smaller cargo pallets that make up the contents of ULDs and to transfer them automatically to the desired location when needed. It has an 18,000 pallet capacity.
Turkish Cargo, which claims to be “the world’s fastest-growing air cargo brand”, believes the opening of the new airport and its cargo facilities there will represent another key stage in its journey to becoming a top global player, noting: “With (Turkish Cargo now) reaching 85 direct cargo destinations around the world and aiming to service 150 destinations with freighters in 2023, Turkish Cargo is walking with strong steps to its goal − being one of the five biggest brands in the air cargo sector − with its investments and developing fleet.” nnn