Turkish Cargo is preparing to move services from its current Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) hub to the Istanbul New Airport (ISL). ISL is scheduled to open on Oct. 29 of this year, and shortly after, on Dec. 31, cargo moving in belly holds of passenger aircraft will move through ISL, while Turkish Cargo’s freighter services will continue operating at IST.
Istanbul’s double-digit year-on-year growth at 16.5 percent for 2017 pushed it into the Top 20 International Freight Airports list this year, replacing Dubai (DWC) as number 20. However, IST is experiencing overcrowding due to its limited throughput capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year, making the new, six-runway ISL, with room for more than 30 widebody freighters to park simultaneously, seem more pragmatic.
ISL will have an initial cargo capacity of 2.5 million tonnes, which will scale up to 5.5 million tonnes once all four phases of construction are completed. The airport has inked cargo service deals worth a total of €250 million with six local freight and logistics companies, all of which signed 25-year contracts that allow them to build and operate their own facilities at the airport’s “Cargo City and Ground Services Campus.”
Turkish Cargo’s “Mega Hub” at the airport will have a capacity of 2 million tonnes after the first phase of construction, and 4 million tonnes per year following completion of the second phase. The hub is being designed with diversified special cargo areas that will integrate artificial intelligence into Turkish Cargo’s operational processes.
The move to ISL will be critical to Turkish Cargo’s long-running double-digit growth streak – the carrier’s traffic in freight tonne kilometers is up 25.5 percent year-to-date – as it already uses upwards of 75 percent of IST’s available space and has continued to add more freighters to its fleet.