Turkish Airlines has added more services at Istanbul New Airport (ISL) ahead of a full opening that is now expected to take place at the end of March.
On January 10, links from ISL to Ashgabat (four weekly), Diyarbakir (3 weekly), Frankfurt (daily), Gaziantep (daily), Hatay (3 weekly), Munich (five weekly), Paris Charles de Gaulle (daily), Tbilisi (daily) and Trabzon (daily) commenced. The following day Kuwait City (four weekly) was added to the network. A four times weekly service to London Gatwick will also be introduced on February 4.
The second phase of ISL's Duty Free zone has opened. (İGA)
Meanwhile the second phase of the airport's duty free zone, covering 53,000m², opened on January 15, 2019. The facility cost TRY1.2bn and is expected to employ 3,000 people. Its design is said to be inspired by the Bosphorus and is made up of seven sections: Fashion Garden, Family Palace, High&Lux Hills: Fashion, High&Lux Hills: Jewelry and Watch, High&Lux Hills: Fashion and Accessories, Style Beach and Icon Gulf.
Transfer of flights to ISL has been slower than expected. (İGA)
The gradual ramp up of airline operations is a far cry from the 'big bang' transfer that was planned for December 31, 2018. However, sources claim that all remaining Turkish and foreign carriers will move from Atatürk to ISL in late March. The official opening of ISL took place in late October as planned, but only five daily services were moved to the new site at the time. Even with the latest transfers, the new facilities designed to handle 90m passengers per annum are being little used.
In mid-December the site was flooded following heavy rain - images showed cars and buses submerged in a huge expanse of water, although İGA claimed only the car parks were affected. Earlier in the month the Turkish Presidential Communications Centre said 52 workers had lost their lives during construction of the airport.
The project has been dogged by controversy (see: Istanbul New Airport delayed again), and even now some sources suggest that the full transfer in late March date is under threat.
The empty concourses at ISL may get busier at the end of March. (İGA)
The Aviation Oracle provided a more detailed of the delays to the opening ISL in December: Istanbul New Airport delayed again