Flights, ferry lines canceled as Istanbul struggles amid heavy snowfall
AFP photoScores of flights from Istanbul airports and city ferry lines have been canceled, as the city continued to struggle on a fourth day of heavy snowfall in what the Mayor Kadir Topbaş described as the heaviest snow in seven years.
Turkish Airlines announced the cancelation of 227 scheduled domestic and international flights from its hub Atatürk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Asian side due to bad weather conditions on Jan. 9.
The carrier later canceled its domestic flights to and from Atatürk Airport until 12 a.m. on Jan. 10.
The carrier and the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ) urged passengers to monitor the latest updates on official websites or call centers before their flights.
The flagship carrier had already canceled more than 600 domestic and international flights at Istanbul International Atatürk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport on Jan. 8.
In addition, low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines also announced that it canceled a total of 74 domestic and international flights on Jan. 9, adding to 228 flights over the past three days.
Meanwhile, Istanbul’s Bosphorus was closed to all naval traffic early on Jan. 9 due to fog caused by heavy snowfall, the Directorate General of Coastal Safety stated.
The passage from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea through the Bosphorus and vice versa has been cut, the statement said.
Along with flights, inter-city and cityline ferry services in Istanbul on some lines were also suspended.
Istanbul’s Fast Ferry and Sea Bus Company (IDO) announced the cancelation of all its inter-city services due to the conditions until 12 p.m. on Jan. 10, while Bursa’s BUDO also canceled many trips to and from Istanbul.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office also banned cargo trucks from roads due to the snowfall.
Previously, some 11 cargo trucks slid on the TEM highway on Jan. 6, causing a massive halt to traffic during the first hours of the snowfall.
Istanbul Gov. Vasip Şahin also announced that the work day for public servants would end at 3:30 p.m. due to the snowfall.
The Governor’s Office also announced that it had canceled classes for a second day due to bad weather conditions.
Meteorological officials said they expected snowfall to continue sporadically through Jan. 11, especially in the afternoon hours to the night, creating an additional snow sheet of five centimeters on the southern shores and around 15 centimeters in the central and northern areas.
On Jan. 8, Istanbul Mayor Topbaş said the city was facing its heaviest snowfall since 2009, urging locals to take extra precautions.
“The snow depth has reached 120 centimeters in some places. Around 7,000 municipality personnel and 1,340 vehicles have been worked intensively to struggle against the snow. Some 50,000 tons of salt have been used on the roads and 370 tons of solution have been used so far,” Topbaş added.
He also urged locals to not to go into traffic without winter tires, instead opting for public transportation.
Topbaş said there were not many problems in areas under the authority of the metropolitan municipality but they had faced some problems in motorways as the road network was very broad.
According to the mayor, 762 homeless have been provided shelter, while food and logistic supplies have been given in traffic. An initiative for street animals to protect them from the tough weather conditions is also ongoing, he said.
Topbaş said the dams servicing the city are currently 60 percent full due to the snowfall and the authorities hope they will rise to over 70 percent.