Turkish Airlines completed its move to İstanbul’s new airport on Saturday, fulfilling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long-held dream of building a vast new transportation hub in Turkey’s largest city, the Financial Times reported.
A huge exercise to transfer operations from the city’s old Atatürk airport to a new international hub began at 3 a.m. on Friday. Dubbed “the big bang,” it required the closure of several major highways to enable the transfer of more than ten thousand ground vehicles.
İlker Aycı, the Turkish Airlines chairman, said the national flag carrier completed its move significantly ahead of schedule and with no major glitches.
The first Turkish Airlines flight following the move took off on time for Ankara, the nation’s capital, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while its first international arrivals landed a few hours later.
Other international carriers will begin flying to and from the airport in the coming days, with normal capacity due to be reached by the end of the coming week.
The opening came not only against the backdrop of Turkey’s first recession in a decade but also as İstanbul was locked in a bitter dispute over the outcome of last Sunday’s local elections that saw the opposition claim victory in the city of 16 million people.