The Turkish General Directorate of State Airports (DHMI) has published a revised guidance to airlines that reveals the transfer of the bulk of flights from Istanbul Atatürk (LTBA) to the new Istanbul Airport (LTFM) has again been delayed.
The move of all passenger services to the new airport was originally expected to take place in October. Although the facility did partially open, it has since handled only a very limited assortment of flights operated by Turkish Airlines.
Is Istanbul New Airport ready? (IGA)
Subsequent goals to transfer the majority of services from Atatürk on December 28 and March 3-4 were missed.
New date - April 5 / 6
The latest Aeronautical Information Circular AIC 10/09 , published by the Turkish Authorities on February 25, states that the move will now commence on April 5 at 03:00 local time and will be completed at midnight on the following day .
Turkish authorities have delayed the full transfer of flights to Istanbul New Airport until April 5/6. (IGA)
During the intervening 45 hours both airports will be subject to operational restrictions and reduced capacity enabling aircraft, ground equipment and to be moved between the two sites. While Turkish carriers will have some access to both sites, foreign carriers will effectively be locked out of Istanbul for almost two days.
During the first 16 hours of the transfer period, Atatürk will only be available to based carriers including Turkish Air, Onur Air and Atlas Global. Then for the following seven hours, only Turkish Airlines flights will be permitted. At 02:00 on April 6 Atatürk will be closed to scheduled passenger traffic. Meanwhile, the new airport will not be available until 14:00 on April 6 after which Turkish Airlines flights will have exclusivity for the next five hours. There will then be a further five hours during which only Turkish carriers will be able to use the facilities. Aircraft will be permitted to transfer between the two airports during the 45 hour period.
Normal operations will resume on April 7, and once the transfer is complete LTBA will only be available to cargo, maintenance / technical, general aviation, air taxi, business flights and state aircraft.
April 5-6 is the forth target for the complete transfer of passenger flights to Istanbul New Airport. It has been operational on a limited basis since October last year, but reports suggest that so far only 1,900 flights and 240,000 passengers have used the facilities.
Istanbul's new airport has been open to limited traffic only since October last year. (IGA)
The latest delay gives authorities another five weeks to prepare, but travellers using the new airport suggest it is still far from ready for large-scale operations - indeed some claim that Turkish Airlines has yet to base a widebody at LTFM.
However, the rescheduling is causing overseas airlines significant inconvenience. Carriers such as British Airways and Lufthansa are still selling tickets to Istanbul for flights during the April 5-6 closure period. Should a further delay become necessary, the move will have to be accomplished during the increasingly busy summer schedule.
Text © The Aviation Oracle