Istanbul’s airport reopens, flights resume after coup attempt
ISTANBUL - Reuters
AFP photoTurkish Airlines resumed flights from Istanbul’s international airport on July 16 following a failed coup attempt while some foreign carriers cancelled weekend flights.
A spokesman for Turkish Airlines said flights had now returned to their normal schedule from Europe’s third largest hub, though delays were to be expected.
Turkish budget carrier Pegasus said its flights were also experiencing minor delays.
The closure of Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport late July 15 had caused the diversion of 35 airplanes and cancelled 32 flights, Turkish Airlines chairman İlker Aycı told broadcaster CNN Turk, as quoted by Reuters.
U.S. airline carriers are prohibited from flying to or from Istanbul and Ankara airports. All airline carriers, regardless of country of registry, are prohibited from flying into the United States from Turkey either directly or via third country.
Russia also suspended passenger flights to the country on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, TASS news agency said.
Turkish and Russian officials had recently met to discuss the restarting of charter flights between the two countries and tourism security after relations soured following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet last year.
British Airways said in a statement it was halting all flights to Turkey on July 16 and one on July 17 as a precaution.
“The safety and security of our customers and crew are always our top priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”
Over 2.5 million British nationals visit Turkey every year according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
EasyJet said its advice from British authorities was to continue flying, although it was monitoring developments.
Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines said it would resume twice daily flights to Atatürk soon.
The attempted coup follows a series of bombings that hit Turkey this year, including a suicide attack in June that killed 45 people at Istanbul’s main airport. They have weighed on international travel to the country.
The number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell dramatically over this year.
The decline signals more pain for Turkey’s economy, which is smarting from slowing exports and weak investment. Some economists have forecast that tourism revenue will drop by a quarter this year, costing around $8 billion.
Flights to touristic destinations
German airline Lufthansa cancelled all its flights to Istanbul and Ankara on July 16 and pared back the number flights to holiday destinations Bodrum and Antalya.
TUI which owns the Thomson and First Choice holiday companies, said its flights to Dalaman, Antalya and İzmir were operating as normal.
Tour operator Thomas Cook said most German guests who had booked a holiday to Antalya or Bodrum had taken their flights on July 16. It said flights from the U.K. were operating as normal but, given the circumstances, free cancellations or amendments were possible for customers due to fly to Turkey this weekend.
State airline EgyptAir also cancelled all flights on July 16 to Istanbul, the company said in a statement. The company, which has 14 flights to Istanbul per week, did not say when they were expected to resume.
All flights from Istanbul to Sofia for July 16 had been cancelled, according to Sofia airport’s website.