Turkh officials opened the new $11.7 billion Istanbul airport Monday, which will become one of the world’s busiest facilities when it is fully operational in January.
According to Reuters.com, construction delays have caused portions of the facility to remain closed, but the Istanbul airport will be able to handle 90 million passengers a year when completed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on hand for the opening ceremony and said expansion plans would allow the facility to eventually accommodate as many as 200 million passengers per year.
During the first two months of the airport’s operations, it will host domestic flights and a small number of international flights, including service to Azerbaijan and Cyprus. President Erdogan revealed the facility will be dubbed Istanbul Airport and would help the country’s role in the integration of global economies.
“With the operation of Istanbul Airport, European air space will have to be restructured,” Erdogan told Reuters.
As for the future of Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, it will be closed to commercial flights once operations move to the new Istanbul Airport. The property will retain its airport status, be used for aviation fairs and unused portions will be transformed into a park.
The ongoing project has been marred by controversy over working conditions and safety standards after 27 workers reportedly died since construction started in 2015. Police also arrested hundreds of protesting workers last month.
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