Speaking live on CNN TÜRK, Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan announced Sunday that Atatürk Airport will be turned into an exhibition area after the Istanbul Third Airport begins operations, adding that it will never be zoned for construction nor will it become a residential area. As the construction of the Istanbul Third Airport continues at full speed, questions regarding what will happen to Atatürk Airport after the opening of the new airport in Istanbul have been a matter of concern for some time, leading Minister Arslan to issue a new statement regarding the subject.
"Sabiha Gökçen Airport will continue to be operational but Atatürk Airport will not provide services," Minister Arslan said, stating that Atatürk Airport and the Istanbul Third Airport are using the same flight route and that the former will not be needed anymore once the later begins operating. Noting that Atatürk Airport will be used as an area where small planes can land and that a number of terminals there will be designated as exhibition areas, Arslan highlighted that the airport will certainly not be zoned for construction.
Pointing out that a global exhibition area will be established that can compete on a global scale, Minister Arslan stressed that Atatürk Airport will definitely not be a mall or residential area. He also added that since Atatürk Airport is located on a very big area in the center of Istanbul, a green area will be erected next to the exhibition center, in accordance with the instructions of the Presidency and the Prime Ministry.
The fair area planned for Atatürk Airport is expected to make large contributions to the local economy by promoting the booking and organization of global fairs. Following Minister Arslan's statements, five global trade fairs are projected to be organized in the new exhibition area.
A sector representative and chairman of MedyaCity, which organizes High Tech Port, the Global SatShow, Expo Turkey by Qatar, the World Cities Expo and the Eurasia Airshow, Hakan Kurt said the transformation of Atatürk Airport into a large fair center will make significant contributions to the Turkish economy. "The fact that the fair sector, which steers the global economy to a significant extent, will have a world-class facility located in Istanbul will further empower Turkey's export capacity," Kurt added. He also noted that Medyacity would like to organize five global-scale fairs related to communication, healthcare, broadcasting, maritime and tourism, in the to-be-founded fair area at the airport.
Moreover, noting that the construction of the second runway continues at Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Minister Arslan said that the Ministry aims to increase capacity there by finishing the second runway in 2019.
"The tender for the Halkalı-Kapıkule route has been prepared. When it is completed, a passenger leaving Sivas will be able to arrive in Kapıkule," Arslan said, adding that a passenger traveling from Ankara via high-speed train will be able to arrive in Haydarpaşa in three hours and in Halkalı in three-and-a-half hours, while the high-speed train will travel between Sivas and Halkalı with travel time of five-and-a-half-hours.