Just knock down Atatürk Airport

Just knock down Atatürk Airport

Finally, the picture is clear. It has been announced that the third airport for Istanbul is going to be built on the Black Sea coast at Taya Kadın.

Now it has been understood that it is impossible to use Atatürk Airport and the newly planned airport together at the same time because the flight paths for descending and ascending planes overlap. Indeed, some people will come out and say, “We already knew this.” But, somehow, such a clarification was not made to the public at the beginning. When this technical impossibility emerged, two additional decisions should have been made: First, to expand the capacity of the new airport; second, to demolish Atatürk Airport and zone it for housing. Both of these decisions, especially the second, were made gladly. Thus, a tender for a build-operate management of the new airport was, in a way, guaranteed, as was the protection of interests stemming from the contractual rights of the managing firm of Atatürk Airport.

Such a venture is not economic

The decision to demolish Atatürk Airport was not, presumably, made just to delete the name of Atatürk. Yeşilköy Airport, the facility’s former – and my preferred – name is situated in an ideal location for Istanbul. It has land, sea and rail connections. It is at the extension of connecting roads to the Bosphorus tunnels that are about to start functioning. Yeşilköy is close to residential areas in Istanbul’s Thracian region. The annexation of the adjacent military airport to Yeşilköy Airport is a decision Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could make immediately. It is very easy to shave off the top floors of high buildings that make descents difficult. Besides, in Tekirdağ’s Çorlu district, which is close to Istanbul, there is an airport that is used from time to time and is suitable for expansion.

Istanbul is developing on the Anatolian side and should continue to develop there because the weight of the Turkish economy is in Anatolia. Those residing on the Anatolian side of Istanbul and those who live in neighboring provinces should be able to reach an airport without crossing the Bosphorus in order to catch an international flight. Sabiha Gökçen Airport was built for this purpose and it has endless expansion potential. When the situation is like this, knocking down Yeşilköy, restricting the expansion of Sabiha Gökçen, borrowing billions of dollars to build an airport near Terkos Lake with a capacity of 150 million passengers is not economic.

In management, there is concept such as “self-proving fallacies.” For example, although the third bridge over the Bosphorus and the third airport might not be economic alone, they become so when the two are built together and their alternatives are destroyed. After a while, there will be some people saying, “See, if the third bridge had not been built, we would have missed our plane. God bless those who built it.” You can be sure of that. Keep quiet and watch the show.

Ege Cansen is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Feb 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

EGE CANSEN - ecansen@hurriyet.com.tr