TAV Group
Istanbul's Atatürk Airport is reaching capacity in international and domestic traffic.


With its two airports nearing capacity, Istanbul is set to build a third. Turkey's transport minister, Binali Yildirim, recently announced that the airport project, estimated to cost $5.6 billion, will be tendered next month, with bids expected by December. The project will be constructed on a build-operate-transfer basis, officials say.

Turkey aims to build the facility in the city's northern section by 2015. Located near the Black Sea on the European side of the city, the airport would have an initial capacity of 90 million annual passengers and could expand to accommodate 150 million annual passengers.

Currently, Istanbul is served by Atatürk Airport on the Marmara Sea on the European side and Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side. They have supported the city's development as a major aviation hub, powered by fast-expanding Turkish Airlines.

But traffic is up considerably. Atatürk Airport broke its air-traffic record on Aug. 17 with a total of 1,127 planes taking off and landing at the transportation hub during the end of Ramadan, government airport officials told a local newspaper. A total of 38,533 passengers arrived at the airport's international terminal, while 38,121 passengers departed. On the domestic side of the airport, 22,417 passengers arrived and 26,626 passengers flew out.

The location chosen for the planned new airport is 80% publicly owned land, while the remaining 20% will be nationalized.

Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said that the design and engineering of the new airport would be part of the tender set to be announced in September, pending final approval of the project by the Supreme Planning Commission.

The government foresees a terminal covering 750,000 sq m. Also planned are three runways large enough to serve Airbus 380 airplanes, the world's largest commercial aircraft. The Minister claims that the new airport will be the third or fourth largest in the world.

The project will be financed on a BOT basis, with the contractor responsible for arranging the financing package

Sani Şener—CEO of Turkish contractor TAV Group, which is set to enter the tender—pointed out that the presence of coal mines on the land would make construction difficult. The firm already is building new airports in Izmir, Turkey, as well as in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi.

The project is likely to attract bids from up to six teams, Şener said in a published report. It would be one of Turkey's largest construction projects to date.

The new airport will be located within easy access of the third Bosphorus crossing, which was awarded in June to a joint venture of Turkey’s ICTAS and Italy's Astaldi after two failed tender attempts. ICTAS-Astaldi won the contract over three other teams by pledging to build the bridge in 36 months as a build-operate-transfer project for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion.

The 1.4-kilometer-long suspension bridge is expected to be built on a radical design by French engineer Michel Virlogeux. Inspired by New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, it features cable stays to provide extra stiffness. 

Virlogeux rejected the original concept of a double-deck bridge to carry eight lanes of highway and twin railway tracks. Instead, he favored a 50-meter-wide, single-level bridge strengthened by stiffening cables, according to a published report. Final approval of the new design is still pending.

Together, the new airport and bridge will speed development of Istanbul’s northern periphery.