Atatürk International Airport, which was commissioned in 1953 and has long served as the main base of Turkish civil aviation, will no longer serve commercial flights as of March 3.
Istanbul Airport, the third in the city, will replace Atatürk International Airport as the main flight hub in country's most populated city.
All commercial flights will be transferred from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport as of March 3, State Airports Authority (DHMİ) General Manager Funda Ocak told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the second phase of a massive duty-free area at Istanbul Airport.
"Once Istanbul Airport is operating at full capacity, our country will be the main base of aviation between the east-west and north-south axes. Especially in the transit passenger market," she noted.
Istanbul Airport has obtained all the required international flight permits, Ocak said.
Atatürk Airport, which handled 68 million people last year, will transition to other uses, such as training activities, aviation fairs and civil use.
Meanwhile, the number of passengers traveling through all Turkish airports, including direct transits, reached 210.2 million as of the end of 2018, recording an 8.6 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Kadri Samsunlu, CEO of Istanbul Grand Airport Operation (IGA), the contractor and operator of Istanbul Airport, said the transfer will be finalized on March 3, noting that all preparations have been made accordingly. The airport has handled more than 100,000 passengers since the first flight on Oct. 31, Samsunlu added.
Once completed, Istanbul Airport will be the world's biggest international airport, covering 76.5 million square meters. The first phase of the airport opened on Oct. 29, on the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The grand opening ceremony was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish ministers, officials and heads of state from around the world.
The airport has the potential to welcome 90 million passengers annually and following the second phase of construction, expected to be completed in 2023, this number will reach around 200 million. The airport will operate flights to 350 destinations worldwide.
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