Update: as of 7 April 2019, the new Istanbul Airport (IST) is operational and the only airport on the European side of Istanbul for commercial passenger airlines! Here you can find information on how to reach your hotel from the new Istanbul Airport.
New Istanbul Airport is Istanbul’s third international airport. The grand ceremonial opening was on 29th October 2018, followed by the first take off on 1st November 2018. As of end December 2018, Turkish Airlines is the only airline serving from the New Istanbul Airport with only a handful international and domestic destinations.
Originally Istanbul Airport was announced to be fully operational by 1st January 2019, and Atatürk Airport was going to stop serving commercial flights. However, recently the authorities decided to postpone the transition for the second time already. This means Atatürk Airport is still the primary airport of Istanbul … for the time being.
When Will the Atatürk Airport Stop Serving?
On 18th December 2018 authorities agreed that an overnight relocation process could cause disruptions. So, as of 1 January 2019 flights and ground services will gradually move from Atatürk Airport, used by nearly 70 million passengers per year, to Istanbul Airport without compromising passenger comfort. After completing the first phase, the airport will have a capacity of serving 90 million passengers.
Originally, the move was planned to be completed by January 1, 2019. From the start this seemed to be a steep hill to climb, and sure enough shortly thereafter the date was postponed to March 3. However, at the end of February a new schedule was announced: the move will start on April 5 2019 at 03:00 and should be completed by midnight on April 7.
During the transition, the new Istanbul Airport will use the IATA code of ISL. Once the move has been completed, the IATA code IST will be transferred to the new airport.
Where is Istanbul Airport?
Istanbul Airport covers a land of 76.5 million square meters on the northern European side of the city, close to the Black Sea in the Arnavutköy district.
The airport is about 52 km away from the Sultanahmet Square. There is currently no metro or tramway line going to the airport from the city centre. The earliest projected launch date for the new metro line is the end of 2019. Until then IETT and Havaist bus lines are the only available public transportation options. Here’s more information on how to get from the new Istanbul Airport to Taksim or Sultanahmet.
Additionally, the company which was founded to construct and operate Istanbul Airport, Istanbul Grand Airport signed a contract with Istanbul Airport Taxi Association to provide taxis within strict regulations. The taxis will be inspected regularly and there will be a point system for the drivers. Should the drivers not follow the regulations, they will lose their permission to serve airport passengers.
UBER is not available since it is illegal in Turkey, but there are some other private companies which offer transportation services.
The Contentious Airport
Since the idea of the airport was first mentioned, the new airport has been in the line of fire. Its location was a matter of dispute as about 1 million trees had to be cut. Its safeness was criticized due to the abandoned coal mines underneath and the strong north winds of the area.
With a floor space of 1.3 million square meters its one block terminal building gathers international and domestic terminals under one roof. It is the biggest one building airport of the world. The airport will host flights to more than 300 destinations with an annual capacity of 200 million passengers once it is completed.
The airport is going to be a luxury extravaganza for the travelers with shops housing Louis Vuitton, Hermes and many more distinguished brands, VIP lounges and restaurants which will be hosting well-known chefs.