New Istanbul airport raises Turkey’s Asia-Europe hub ambitions

The new airport's observation tower

With the opening of Istanbul’s new airport last month, hopes are high among the Turkish travel trade that the country’s transit hub status will be reinforced and draw more connecting flights from Asia, especially China.

Toyou Turkey’s partner, Oktay Lin, told TTG Asia: “I hope more Asian traffic will stop in Turkey, (from where it’ll only take) three hours to reach three quarters of Europe.”

Lin hopes to find surrounding destinations like Egypt and partners to work with to co-promote the airport as good stopover point.

The new airport’s observation tower

Ace Travel’s managing director, Sayed Abdal Ghany, welcomed the new infrastructure, stating that the older airports was not able to cope with the growing demand for Turkey.

He elaborated: “The old airport can only handle 90 million passengers a year, but the new airport would handle more than double that number, and accommodate 200 million passengers.

“Moreover, set between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the main transit hubs. Turkey is also a top destination, we’ve welcomed 40 million travellers (this year) and expect the number to grow to 55 million in 2019.”

For South Marmara Development Agency’s specialist Kerem Oner, he hopes that the new airport will draw more connecting flights from China. The organisation focuses on supporting and developing the Balıkesir and Çanakkale provinces, both located south of Istanbul.

This is because Oner hopes that with the new connections, Chinese travellers will be able to visit Canakkale, located less than an hour’s flight from the capital. He said: “So far, only a small part of Chinese travellers come to reputable Troy, as most of them just travel to Istanbul.”

Oner added that should China Southern Airlines fly direct from Beijing to Istanbul next year, he hopes that this will encourage more Chinese travellers to explore beyond the capital.

Chinese outbound interest in Turkey is steadily building up, observed Blueland Tours’ co-founder, Fuat Karakas. “Apart from the soon-to-launch Istanbul-Beijing services by China Southern Airlines, Onur Air (an Istanbul-based LCC) will also start flying to Chengdu. So far, we’ve some high-end tours from China booked for February 2019,” he shared.

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