Turkish begins belly freight handling at new Istanbul Airport hub

posted on 9th April 2019
Turkish begins belly freight handling at new Istanbul Airport hub

Cargo division to use a temporary satellite facility from April, when the remainder of the airline’s passenger flights move from Ataturk Airport, where freighter flights will remain

Turkish Cargo begins cargo handling operations at a temporary satellite facility at the new Istanbul Airport from 6 April when the remainder of Turkish Airlines’ passenger flights move there from Atatürk Airport. But the airline confirmed that its freighter flights and the cargo handling operations for these will continue to be performed from the existing cargo terminal at Atatürk Airport “until construction of the Mega Cargo Facility is completed at Istanbul Airport”.

The cargo division stressed that performing handling operations for the airline’s passenger bellyhold cargo at the temporary facility was “completely satisfactory in terms of infrastructure”, insisting that it would be “at the same level of quality and care as previously”.

The airline said it had been getting ready for some time to maintain its operations from Atatürk and Istanbul airports under a ‘dual hub’ system. It also highlighted that Turkish Cargo will have the capacity to handle 4 million tonnes of cargo annually in its “new modern cargo terminal that will have an indoor area of 300,000 sqm when all phases of Istanbul Airport will have been completed”.

Indeed, the ambitious new Istanbul Airport promises to become the world’s biggest airport when fully operational, with an initial capacity to serve 90 million people that could be expanded to 200 million once all phases are completed. The airport had an official opening on 29 October 2018 but has operated since then on a highly restricted initial basis, hosting just a handful of weekly flights from home carrier Turkish Airlines. Plans for the airport’s full opening – at least to passenger flights – were delayed initially to January, and then March, before the latest delay to April.

Turkish Cargo’s and other operators’ freighter flights are set to remain at Atatürk for most or all of 2019, with the companies having to truck cargo between the two airports, because of delays in completing some of the new airport’s cargo facilities. CAAS understands that the new cargo terminals could not be completed in time due to the late delivery of the land by the construction company.

Mega Hub

The new airport’s cargo handling capacity is expected to be around 6 million tonnes annually, including those 4 million tonnes of capacity for home carrier Turkish Cargo. At the end of first-phase construction, Turkish Cargo’s ‘Mega Hub’ will cover an area of 165,000 sqm, with a capacity of 2 million tonnes per year available, rising to 4 million tonnes per year and a floor area of 300,000 sqm with the completion of second phase.

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”. Turkish Cargo said 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.