Turkey's huge new airport 'a travel boon for South Africans'
Travel Turkey's huge new airport 'a travel boon for South Africans' 27 October 2018 - 10:01 By Philani Nombembe Journalists from around the world inspect Istanbul New Airport before its opening on Monday.
Image: Philani Nombembe
Not even the recent death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul could eclipse preparations this week for Monday's unveiling of Turkeyâs new airportâ one of the worldâs biggest.
Istanbul New Airport â" its temporary name â" is expected to become a familiar place for South Africans either taking advantage of the randâs strength against the lira or connecting to other destinations.
Turkish Airlinesâ which operates daily flights to Istanbul from Johannesburg and Cape Town and four flights a week from Durbanâ is the principal tenant and will take up to 70% of the airportâs capacity.
The companyâs Cape Town general managerâ Kenan Inceâ said: âIstanbul offers time savings when compared to most rival hubs for SA travellers connecting westwards to Europeâ the Americas or North Africa.
âIt is one of few popular destinations outside of Africa where an SA passport offers efficiency and value [free visas] compared to so me other âfirst worldâ passports.
âIstanbul is a competitive advantage for Turkish Airlinesâ as for South Africans it is considered a desirable place for a stopoverâ business connection hubâ or as a holiday destinationâ especially when compared to rival hubs like Dubaiâ Abu Dhabiâ Qatar and Addis Ababa.â
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As the diplomatic impasse raged on this week over the death of Khashoggiâ a 60-year-old Saudi Arabianâ Turkey winged ahead with its preparations to launch its 76.5 million square metre international airport 35km north-west of Istanbul on its European side.
With a capacity of 2â000 flights a day and 90 million passengers a year â" set to increase to 200 million â" the Turkish government believes it will give the likes of Heathrowâ Schiphol and Frankfurt a run for their money as an international hub.
The airport is being built by iGAâ which will run it for next 25 years. On Thusdayâ CEO Kadri Samsunlu hosted journalists from across the world at the completed first phase â " two runways and a terminal. âIstanbul New Airportâ the largest infrastructure in the history of the republicâ is now 97% complete and it will break new ground in many fields with its technologyâ design and passenger experienceââ said Samsunlu.
âThe shift towards the Asia-Pacific region not only in travel but also in commerce will make Istanbul New Airport a strong player in cargo transportation business too.â
Samsulu said the airportâs design was inspired by Turkish-Islamic arts and architecture.
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