The situation 18 days until the opening of the Istanbul New Airport

The situation 18 days until the opening of the Istanbul New Airport

I went to see the Istanbul New Airport (İGA) on March 28. Due to winter conditions, the site was like a sea of mud mixed with snow. Six months later, I went to visit the airport this time together with a group of journalists. 

Here are my impressions 18 days before the opening of the airport.

The route to the airport

I left my neighborhood of Cihangir (at the city center) at 9:25 a.m. and was at the airport at 10:05 a.m.

It took 40 minutes just like six months ago. But when the airport begins working in full capacity, traffic congestion will be inevitable and it will take longer to go. It is clear we will suffer on the way to and back from the airport until the opening of the metro line in the summer of 2019.

First impressions

In six months’ time, tremendous progress has been made. Still, the first moment we set foot at the airport, the first reaction from all the journalists was “how will this be complete in 18 days?”

The general director of İGA, who has rented the airport for 25 years, said the airport would open partially on Oct. 29.

“We postponed the big transfer from the Atatürk airport to Dec. 31,” said Kadri Samsunlu.

As of Oct. 29, Turkish Airlines will fly to Ankara, İzmir and Antalya on domestic lines whereas only one foreign line will operate, and that will be to Baku. In a way, there will be live testing until Dec. 31.

Samsunlu said the collapse on the ground that took place a few months ago was triggered by the construction of the metro line. It did not take place on the area of the track.

He said all work on the tracks are done according to international standards and the airport would not have secured a flight permit if it did not comply with international aviation standards.

From 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we went through all areas of the airport. One of the questions that came to mind was about the security of such a huge place.

On the first wall are security radars. They give a warning signal if any person, animal or vehicle approaches the fences around the airport. The gendarmerie posts have been set up with a certain distance among them, enabling members of the gendarmerie to move to the place where a warning sign has come from.

The airport is surrounded by fences and it is impossible for animals to reach the tracks. Every point of the airport will be monitored by 9,000 security cameras. To compare the total number of security cameras in the streets of Istanbul is 21,000. 

Do not go around a car for more than 45 seconds

A different type of security understanding has been developed for inside the airport.

Eight “abnormal” behaviors have been defined and warning signals are triggered by security cameras. Security teams will be sent there if someone does one of them.

“We call them eight defective moves. If a person goes around a car for over 45 seconds that triggers a security warning. Leaving luggage unattended for over 45 seconds are also among them,” he said.

The location of the airport was criticized as being on a migratory route for birds. This was due to a dump in the region. After clearing the dump, the bird population speedily left the area, according to Samsunlu.

The complaints of workers

Samsunlu said he had not been informed of the complaints in time. “These complaints reached me at a very late stage. It is unacceptable for workers to become soaked under the rain. I apologized to them for that. But later, some tried to abuse the situation,” he said.

The problems about accommodation, hygiene and bed bugs have all been solved.

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