After a long and arduous construction process, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will be joining President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the first test flight at Istanbul New Airport.
The announcement came from Celal Koloğlu, the chairman of the Turkish Construction Industrialists Employer's Union (INTES) - one of the airport's contractors - who said the planned test flight will take place on Feb. 26, 2018, the president's 64th birthday.
Addressing a group of journalists, Koloğlu gave information in reference to the ongoing construction at the city's third airport. He said that two independent runways, a terminal building with a closed area of 1.2 million square meters and a closed parking lot with a capacity of 30,000 vehicles will be completed and opened on Oct. 29, 2018.
The INTES chairman said the planes will be able to land and take off simultaneously on both runways, once they are completed, highlighting that currently there is not a single runway in Turkey capable of doing this.
"One of the runways is completed, and some tests are being run. When all six runways are completed, there will be a total of three towers," he said, adding that in late February, a Turkish Airlines' plane will land at the airport in a trial.
"The president and the prime minister will also arrive on that plane, and they will survey the airport," he said.
Koloğlu also said that, if all goes to plan, Atatürk airport will close in early 2019.
Adding that there is also a "city port" project, the chairman said major institutions want to build a hospital that will treat patients coming from abroad before entering Istanbul.
Recalling that they were going to give the airport's duty-free operation to German Unifree, Koloğlu said they later developed some concerns with regards to the number of passengers. "The concerns were resolved in talks," he continued. "Permission is granted to the airline companies by the civil aviation authority. They apply to us to get space from the terminal. There are close to 15 companies, including Singapore Airlines and Qatar, but we have not conducted any leasing transactions in the negotiation phase." Istanbul's newest airport, which is the biggest infrastructure project in the world with an estimated investment cost of 10.5 billion euros, is currently 73 percent complete and will be ready to operate in the last quarter of 2018.