Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım said 1.7 billion euros has been spent on the third airport so far, adding that the construction work has been progressing as planned and they expect to finish the first phase of the project in February 2018. Yıldırım also stressed that a total of 23 percent of the project has been completed while in terms of infrastructural work, 40 percent has been completed.
Adding that the project does not place an additional burden on the shoulders of the state and the Treasury, Yıldırım said 10.25 billion euros will have been spent by the time the project is finished. Moreover, after the airport is made operational, the operating firm will pay the government 1.5 billion euros per year in rent for 25 years, which amounts to more than 25 billion euros.
Yıldırım toured the construction area of the airport on April 17 along with Nihal Özdemir, chairman of Limak Holding, the contractor firm, in order to examine the ongoing construction work of the mega project. Speaking to members of the press on the construction site, Yıldırım said the project will be completed in four phases, adding that the first and the most exhaustive phase will start to operate on Feb. 26, 2018. Furthermore, Yıldırım said the first phase of the project will have a capacity of approximately 100 million passengers, stressing that the third airport will also have the largest passenger capacity in the world simply with the completion of the first phase. Moreover, in the next phases, Yıldırım estimated that the third airport will reach a capacity of 150-200 million passengers.
Emphasizing that Istanbul Atatürk Airport is the third-biggest airport in Europe, Yıldırım said one of the greatest motivations for the third airport was that within 13 years, the number of transit passengers at Istanbul Atatürk Airport reached 24 million - up from 2 million. Yıldırım also said that the ministry aims to make Istanbul the heart of global aviation where different parts of the world meet. He also drew attention to the fact that the third airport project is the most environmentally friendly project north of Istanbul.