May start for Istanbul's third airport construction

May start for Istanbul's third airport construction

ISTANBUL – Reuters
The construction of the third Istanbul airport is set to begin in May, one of the contractors has said, stressing the main priority of the project will be environmental adaption.

“We almost completed the project, we’re on the final touches. At the beginning of May, our construction machines will begin to work at the site,” said Nihat Özdemir, chairman of Limak, one of the five companies forming the consortium that won a tender for the third airport in Istanbul.

Özdemir also reasserted that the airport was expected to become operational in the early days of 2019.

The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon Consortium, a joint venture of Turkish companies, won a tender for the third airport in Istanbul in May, promising to pay the state 22.1 billion euros (plus taxes) for 25 years starting from 2017.

Speaking at the CEO Club meeting on Sept. 20, Özdemir said environmental concerns were the top priority issue of the project right now.

“Our project team is visiting the most important airport of the world and examining adaption of these airports with the environment. Our top issue is how to maintain the adaptation of our airport with environment as well,” he said.

After country-wide protests broke out against the demolition of trees in Gezi Park, the environmental sensitivities of society have emerged as a more salient concern for the contractors of mega projects which foresee the destruction of leafy areas over a much wider area.

The Turkish Ministry of Transport had estimated that around 2.5 million trees would be cut or moved to a new place during the construction of the airport planned to be built in northern Istanbul.
The new airport is planned to be constructed on Istanbul’s European side between the Black Sea regions of Yeniköy and Akpınar, on an area of 7,659 hectares. Some 6,172 hectares of this area is forest land.

“We are now researching which airports are the most environmentally-friendly, to be inspired. Otherwise the environmentalists in Gezi Park could visit the third airport to demonstrate,” Özdemir had said in June amid the ongoing protests.