Minister says İstanbul’s Atatürk Airport to be used for VIP, CIP flights

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When a new airport constructed in İstanbul becomes fully operational, the city’s Atatürk Airport will only be used for state flights as well as for the flights of very important and commercially important persons (VIP and CIP), according to Turkish Transportation Minister Mehmet Cahit Turan, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month opened İstanbul’s controversial new airport, a mega-project that recently saw a strike over poor working conditions and a disputed number of work-related deaths.

Located on the Black Sea, the airport will initially have the capacity to handle around 90 million passengers a year, but that number is expected to rise to 150 million by 2023, according to AFP. When finished, İstanbul’s new airport will be the fifth largest in the world.

With the inauguration of the new airport, everyone has begun to ponder the fate of the city’s first airport, Atatürk Airport, located in İstanbul’s Yeşilköy neighborhood, which to date is the biggest airport in Turkey by total number of passengers, destinations served and aircraft arrivals and departures.

Ali Öztunç, a deputy from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), asked in a parliamentary question to Minister Turan what would become of Atatürk Airport when the new airport becomes fully operational.

In response, the minister said in line with conditions in the contract for the new airport, which was constructed by the private sector, Atatürk Airport will be closed to domestic and foreign flights; however, flights by state officials, VIPs and CIPs will be made from Atatürk.

The state guesthouse at Atatürk Airport was recently renovated at a cost of TL 3.1 million and was put back into use, complete with the presidential seal.

Turkey’s opposition parties criticized the new airport project due to claims of lucrative contracts and corruption surrounding its construction. CHP deputy Aykut Erdoğdu said on Sept. 25 that private parties had reaped TL 32 billion ($5.78 billion) in ill-gotten gains from the project.

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