Largest airport move by Turkish Airlines to last 45 hours
Turkish Airlines will run the “largest operation” of civil aviation history to move its base to Istanbul’s new airport by 15,000 ground vehicles and 5,000 trucks in 45 hours on Oct. 29-31, the company chair has announced.
The first flight by the national carrier will be made to the capital city of Ankara in the afternoon of Oct. 31, Turkish Airlines chair İlker Aycı said on Aug. 9, adding that the carrier’s first international flights from the new airport will be made to Azerbaijan and Turkish Cyprus.
“We will realize the largest operation of civil aviation history to move our base to the new airport. Over 15,000 equipment will be carried by 15,000 ground vehicles and 5,000 trucks to a 35,000 square meter area. This 45-hour operation will be watched by the whole world,” he told a group of journalists in Istanbul.
He noted that comprehensive testing, planning and integration matter here.
“It is of great importance for us to run comprehensive tests in an effort to achieve a smoother integration. Any process of us will be tested and planned in a 100 percent harmonized work. Training will be key here. Our consultants have emphasized this,” Aycı added.
Today is the first day of a trial operation using real-time data by 33,000 Turkish Airlines staff members,” top company officials also said.
Ahead of the opening, Turkish Airlines pilots will make hundreds of landings and take-offs at the new airport, the company officials also said.
“We will observe each operation one by one from stair services to other flight operations. After careful tests, our operation to move to our new base will start,” said Captain Pilot Aykut Alpa, the vice general manager who is responsible for flight management.
The first flight from the airport will be made at 2:00 p.m. local time on Oct. 31 to Ankara, which would be followed by international flights to Azerbaijan and Turkish Cyprus, Aycı said.
An ongoing metro project will be completed soon, enabling passengers to reach the city center in 26 minutes, he said.
“As Turkish Airlines, we will be based on a 664,000 square-meter area,” Aycı also said, adding that the carrier would also have a special lounge area on a 10,000 square-meter area.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aircraft on June 21 made the first ever landing at Istanbul’s new colossal airport, to which the national carrier will start moving its base from Atatürk Airport on Oct. 29, Turkey’s Republic Day.
Upon completion, the third airport in the city—95 percent of which is already completed—will be the world’s biggest project built from scratch.
The new airport will be one of three biggest in the world, with an annual capacity of 90 million passengers in the first phase.
In the second phase, which is expected to be completed in 2023, the number is expected to rise to 150-250 million.
With a multi-billion dollar investment, Istanbul’s new airport will be home to the world’s largest duty-free shopping complex.
Aycı thanked the airport builders and the company’s catering partner Do&Co for their distinguished works.
Regarding some earlier reports about a concrete collapse at the airport construction site last week, he said there was no big problem that would negatively affect the airport operations.
“The airport builders have worked day and night without making any compromise from global standards. In this rapid process, they sometimes faced some little problems, like the recent leveling down on an area. There was nothing to obstruct the airport operations,” he added.
Four points increase in load factor
Aycı also gave the financial details of the latest month, noting that the carrier clinched many records, including the highest increase in passenger numbers and load factor.
“Turkish Airlines achieved the highest July load factor [LF] in its history with 85.3 percent. During January-July, total LF improved by 4 points up to 81 percent, thus recording the highest load factor in Turkish Airlines history for the period of January-July,” he said.
According to a financial statement by the company, the total number of passengers carried by the Turkey’s national flag carrier saw a 15.2-percent hike on a yearly basis, up from 37.5 million passengers in the same period in 2017, and reached 43.2 million.
Cargo/mail carried during the first seven months of 2018 increased by 26 percent and reached 779,000 tons, the company also said.
The company aims at becoming one of the top three cargo carriers of the world.
According to the airline’s end-year targets, the company expects to carry 75 million passengers—including 33 million on domestic routes, 42 million on international routes—with around an 81-percent passenger load.
Turkish Airlines earned nearly 24.4 billion Turkish Liras ($5.9 billion) of total revenue in the first half of this year while the company had nearly 25,000 staff, including more than 4,500 pilots.
“Our total revenue rose 30 percent to nearly $6 billion in the first half of the year compared to the same period of last year,” Aycı said, adding that the company turned to profit in the second quarter.
The company made a 441 million lira ($127 million) net profit in the second quarter of the year, while it announced a 194 million lira ($61 million) net loss in the same period of last year.
“In terms of market value, we have surpassed Air France,” Aycı noted.
Turkish Airlines has a nearly 24 billion lira ($4.54 billion) market value, based on stock exchange market figures, as of market close on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The firm revised its revenue guidance for 2018 to $12.5 billion from $11.8 billion and said more than 80 percent of its income is in U.S. dollars and euros.