Dysfunctions at Istanbul’s new airport has turned the old one into a VIP runway that’s used by foreign leaders and sometimes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The new Istanbul Airport, which started operating last year after Atatürk Airport was closed to domestic and international commercial passenger flights, was severely affected by last week’s heavy storm, with dozens of flights getting canceled or delayed.
Atatürk Airport, however, continued to operate, with Russian President Vladimir Putin using it on Jan. 7, as thousands of passengers suffered from the new airport’s dysfunctions.
Another foreign leader to use the airport was Fayez al-Serraj, the leader of Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), who arrived in Istanbul on Jan. 12 to meet with Erdoğan.
Atatürk Airport also made international headlines last month, when it was revealed that former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn used it to escape to Lebanon from Japan, which was followed by authorities launching an investigation into the incident.
Continuing disrupts in flights
Atatürk Airport started to be used for cargo planes following the transfer of flights to the new airport – a move the opposition continues to criticize due to continuing disrupts in flights at the new one.
During its construction, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was warned against the airport being on the migration route of birds, as well as the danger posed by the storms coming from the north.
According to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report, the area that the new airport was constructed on is windy 107 days of the year and heavily cloudy in 65 days on average. It’s also on the migration path of some 600,000 birds annually.
Last week, the wind speed was measured as 105 kph at the new airport during the storms, while it was 85 kph at Atatürk Airport.
Istanbul’s second international airport Sabiha Gökçen was also severely affected by weather conditions, with a plane skidding off the runway, leaving Atatürk Airport as the city’s only functioning one.