Successful opening of the largest airport in the world

After a smooth and seamless soft opening in October 2018

New Istanbul Airport fully started operations on 6th April 2019

It is designed for 90 million passengers yearly, has a floor area of nearly 1.500.000 sqm, five piers and over 530 check-in desks. The biggest single roof-terminal in the world, two runways and numerous ancillary buildings were fully handed over as new home and hub to Turkish Airlines on 6th April this year. A team of MAI specialists had the privilege and challenge to support Turkish Airlines Group to achieve operational readiness, execute a successful and timely move, and finally start up Turkish Airlines hub operations at the New Istanbul Airport.

MAI was awarded a contract by Turkish Airlines to establish proper target procedures and concepts for the new airport, provide familiarization training and trial operations to create confidence in the operational readiness of the airport and Turkish Airlines’ own infrastructure, procedures and systems, and finally manage the move from Atatürk Airport to the new infrastructure. This comprehensive agreement covered, besides Turkish Airlines, their catering, cargo and aircraft engineering division. An additional and important focus was to track the construction progress, mostly of the Turkish Airlines infrastructure, but also of the new airport infrastructure and reporting of the same to the Turkish Airlines ORAT project manager and senior management.

Munich Airport supported Turkish Airlines in moving operations
Munich Airport supported Turkish Airlines in moving operations to the New Istanbul Airport. © Turkish Airlines & Munich Airport International GmbH
The whole ORAT team celebrated the successful move and held a fairwell party for all MAI colleagues. © Munich Airport International GmbH

A team of 10 MAI consultants was working on this project. The experts covered various core processes such as Passenger Handling Operations, Ground Handling, Cargo Handling, Catering, HCC Operations, IT, Maintenance & Facility Management and Security. Additionally, Training, Trial Operations and a Transfer Logistics expert completed the team and covered their respective work packages.

After close and excellent collaboration with Turkish Airlines own ORAT team and the airport operator IGA, the new airport was inaugurated after only four years of construction, on 29th October 2018. However, Turkish Airlines started with 10 daily O&D flights and continuously increased their movements over the following five month. This period with “live trials” completed the preceding familiarization and trial phase of the project and was used to eliminate last shortcomings in systems, IT and the infrastructure. Although the split of operations to two airports increased resource requirements and added further complexity to managing Turkish Airlines network operations, the live trials created perfect confidence in the operational readiness of the airport and Turkish Airlines’ own infrastructure, systems and procedures, as all Turkish Airlines stakeholders rotated all their over 9.000 staff through this operation.

The full and final move to the new airport started on 5th April 2019 and ended after a 45-hour transition period. In this timeframe, the meticulously planned and controlled transfer took place and 47.000 tons of GSE, material and equipment were transferred from Atatürk Airport to the New Istanbul Airport, 35 km away, on the coast of the Black Sea. At the same time, on 6th April at 2am, the last Turkish Airlines flight from Atatürk left for Singapore and ended the era of passenger flights at this legendary airport.

The transfer to the new airport was executed faster than planned and completed more than sixteen hours ahead of schedule without the slightest glitch. Finally, Turkish Airlines started the worldwide biggest single hub operation at Istanbul Airport with its first flight on 6th April at 2pm. 

  • Truck convoy transporting Turkish Airlines GSE, material and equipment
    A convoy of trucks transported 47.000 tons of GSE, material and equipment from Atatürk Airport to the New Istanbul Airport. © Turkish Airlines & Munich Airport International GmbH
  • Transport of Turkish Airlines material to new airport
    The transfer to the new airport was executed faster than planned and completed more than sixteen hours ahead of schedule without the slightest glitch. © Turkish Airlines & Munich Airport International GmbH
Turkish Airlines started operations at New  Istanbul Airport on 6 April 2019
Turkish Airlines started the worldwide biggest single hub operation at Istanbul Airport with its first flight on 6th April at 2pm.  © Turkish Airlines & Munich Airport International GmbH

After the biggest airport in the world fully opened for operation and our client, Turkish Airlines, successfully moved its hub operation, MAI’s consulting team remained onsite for a further week and continued their support to optimize operations.

“We thank Turkish Airlines for their lasting and excellent cooperation. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with such a fine team and to be part of this unique project,” commented Ivonne Kuger, Vice President Operations of MAI.