Istanbul airport surpassed Heathrow in terms of traffic.

Most airports in Western Europe experienced a sharp drop in traffic, averaging 70%, especially since March 2020.

Istanbul’s new airport, just 2 years old, took the top spot in terms of traffic, with 23.4 million passengers, marginally outperforming London Heathrow, where traffic was down 73%.

According to a Bloomberg report, Istanbul airport and Moscow airport saw the smallest decline in traffic.

Heathrow lost the top spot in 2020 due to the strict restrictive measures introduced by Union governments to deal with the rapid spread of the pandemic. Paris and Charles de Gaulle, which were in second place in 2019, appear to have overtaken Heathrow, holding a slight lead.

Most western European airports experienced a sharp drop in traffic of 70% on average, especially since March 2020.

Athens and Eleftherios Venizelos, although partially open during the summer period, saw a decline in traffic in December of 85.6% and 68.4% overall for 2020.

Target 200 million passengers

Turkish Airlines aircraft at their new headquarters, Istanbul Airport / AP Photos
Authorities estimate that the impressive new airport will serve 90 million passengers a year with three runways in its current phase of development, when the world’s busiest airport, that of Atlanta in the US, served 104 million travellers last year.

The new Istanbul airport will serve 90 million passengers per year in the first phase / Photo: AP
By 2028, however, Istanbul Airport will have six runways and four terminals and will serve 200 million passengers annually, covering an area of 76 sq km – three times that of Ataturk.

International media commented that Erdogan’s ruling AKP party spent 10.2 billion euros on the pharaonic project – Erdogan’s dowry in his hometown – in order to attract votes.

By 2028, the Turkish government aspires for Istanbul’s new airport to be the largest in the world.

But the huge cost has sparked opposition from a large proportion of citizens groaning under the weight of the economic crisis, high inflation and a teetering national currency. Activists complain that the huge development in the airport area has destroyed forests with unforeseen consequences for wildlife as well. While workers have complained about accidents during construction, poor working conditions, food and late payment of wages.

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