The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has blasted the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s decision to build one of its two recently-announced pandemic hospitals on the site of Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, alleging that the damage caused to the runways amounts to $2 billion.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on April 6 that two coronavirus hospitals would be built in Istanbul, one at the Atatürk airport, the city’s former main airport, and the other on the far Anatolian side district of Sancaktepe. He also announced that each hospital would be one floor and have the capacity for one thousand beds.
Turkey’s largest city has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with 60 percent of the country’s cases having been identified in Istanbul.
The hospital in question was slated to be built on a piece of land across from the airport, but due to its close proximity to a residential area, the plans were changed and it was decided that the hospital would be built inside the boundaries of the airport.
CHP Istanbul deputy Özgür Karabat criticized the government’s decision to build the hospital on the runway rather than inside the 325,000 square meter airport itself, which has heating, cooling, ventilation, a sewage system and a connection to a metro line.
“Two long runways have been broken, and thus have been brought to a state in which they can no longer be used. Even though the Atatürk airport terminal buildings, parking lots, and plane storage areas are available, they rendered two runways unusable by building this hospital. The construction of a runway costs nearly $1 billion,” Karabat said.