Ferhat Yaşar/ DUVAR
A Turkish tourism association spoke out against a plan to establish a 'Meeting Lounge' outside Istanbul's new main airport where people will be charged 4 euros to wait for an arriving passenger.
“If they take this practice one step further, it will become possible even to take money from you when you go to pick up your grandmother,” said Berrin Özgen of the Common Mind Tourism Platform, speaking at a press conference in central Istanbul. As of Dec. 31 last year, the airport banned employees from tourism agencies from waiting outside the airport holding placards bearing passengers' names.
Tourist agent Gürkan Özcan says the implementation of this fee is against the law.
“According to the law, all agencies have the right to meet guests coming from abroad, and they are taking this right away from us. The [Istanbul airport] is making a great effort to monetize this. It has been said this is due to security reasons but this situation has nothing to do with security,” Özcan said.
“They listed the concept of a 'quiet airport' as a reason for the decision. There is not a single quiet airport anywhere in the world, at every airport people are greeted with signs bearing their names. In my professional life and during my stint in civil aviation in France, I was the director responsible for the commercial zones of three stations at the same time. As such, I know how things function in other countries very well,” said Özgen, echoing her belief that the plan is in violation of the law.
The issue is the latest in an ongoing series of controversies surrounding Istanbul's newest airport, the opening of which was delayed extensively as crews scrambled to finish construction. Environmentalists and activists opposed the construction of the airport from the start, as it is located in the northern forestlands of the city near the Black Sea, which resulted in the clearcutting of millions of trees. The airport also lies near major migratory bird routes.