Once the new Istanbul airport is finished as planned in 2018, Istanbul Atatürk Airport will be closed to commercial air transportation, according to a notification from the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry. The announcement quells the curiosity over the destiny of the Atatürk Airport, which ended after an Istanbul deputy of the People's Republican Party (CHP) directed a question to Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Currently, Istanbul Atatürk Airport is the main international airport in Istanbul, followed by Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and the biggest airport in Turkey in terms of total number of passengers, destinations served and aircraft movements. It opened in 1924, is located in Yeşilköy on the European side of the city and functions as the main hub for Turkish Airlines.
During the 1980s, the airport was renamed Istanbul Atatürk Airport in honor of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey.
In March, the airport, which serves as Turkey's main gateway to the world, was awarded for best improving its service quality in Europe thanks to the votes of hundreds of thousands of passengers. The ranking was made in line with results of the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey conducted by Airports Council International (ACI).
Also, TAV Istanbul General Manager Kemal Ünlü stressed that Atatürk Airport was ranked third last year in terms of the number of passengers served with 61.3 million, following London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports. Ünlü said the duty-free and food court areas were expanded and biometric passports controls were introduced to handle more passengers. He added that the airport was also presented as an example by the United Nations for its disabled person-friendly practices and that the airport will be able to comfortably serve 75 million passengers annually when the additional international terminal is completed.