With Turkish Cargo posting a 30 percent, year-over-year, jump in 2016, to 3.6 billion freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), the scale of Istanbul’s new six-runway airport is suddenly looking more pragmatic.
On the logistics side, the country’s new airport is nearing completion, setting the stage for a new global cargo hub that could present real competition to freight hubs to the south, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
IGA, the operator of a massive new airport under construction on the northwest outskirts of Istanbul, near the Black Sea coast, announced that it has inked cargo service deals worth a total of €250 million, with six local freight and logistics companies. The companies, including a national integrator, MNG, PTT (the Turkish postal service) and ground handler Çelebi all signed 25-year contracts that allow them to build and operate their own facilities at the airport’s “Cargo City and Ground Services Campus.”
The new airport, about 35 kilometers away on the European side of Istanbul, has designated 1.4 million square meters for cargo operations, including cargo aircraft parking areas. An additional 150,000 square meters has been allocated for ground services.
IGA chair Hüseyin Keskin said that the new airport will have a cargo capacity of 2.5 million tonnes during its initial phase of operation in 2018, eventually scaling up to 5.5 million tonnes once all four phases of construction are completed.
Turkish Cargo seems to be positioning itself to move fast once the new airport is operational. In the first half of 2017, the carrier’s chief cargo officer, Turhan Ozen, said that it had “focused on increasing its freighter fleet adding four new freighters,” two of which are 747Fs and nine A33-200fs as well as some older A310 freighters, bringing the total number of freighters to 15.
The current overcrowded Ataturk Airport (IST) hub, just west of the city, has 1.2 million tonnes of capacity, and Turkish Cargo estimates that it is using upwards of 75 percent of the available space. Once the new airport opens, IST is expected to be closed.