Istanbul's new airport 'has advantage over Gulf'

Leading aviation analysts say Turkish rival could outdo new, expanded Gulf airports
Passengers ask for information at the departure terminal of the Ataturk International airport in Istanbul.
By Courtney Trenwith
Wed 04 Sep 2013 07:55 PM

Turkey’s giant airport under construction in Istanbul could outdo similar sized new and expanded airports in the Gulf in a race to be the regional hub for air traffic, according to leading aviation analysts CAPA.

Dubai Airport Corporation is spending about $10bn on increasing Dubai International Airport’s capacity to 90 million passengers, as well as building the new Al Maktoum airport at Dubai World Central, with an eventual capacity of 150m passengers.

Qatar also is expected to open its new Hamad International Airport by the end of the year, and Abu Dhabi is adding a massive midfield terminal.

However, Turkey also is building a $5bn new airport in its largest city with six runways and a total capacity of 150m when it is completed.

The first stage will provide a capacity of 90m in 2017.

Istanbul has said it aims to attract international travellers in transit to Europe, Africa and Asia – putting it in direct rivalry with GCC airports.

And with a larger population than Qatar and the UAE combined – 13.85m compared to less than 10m – the city could be in a leading position, according to CAPA.

The centre says the competition could come down to transit traffic versus ‘origin and destination’ (O&D) passengers – those originating in a country or finishing their journey there.

“[The Gulf] airports are basing traffic, and therefore seat capacity, projections largely on transfer traffic; there is still a comparatively small amount of O&D traffic at Dubai or the other two Gulf hubs.” CAPA said in a blog post this week.

“That isn’t the case in Turkey though ... Turkey does have the advantage of having a sizeable population and it attracts swathes of tourists from across Europe and beyond.

“That O&D base must give it an advantage in the long term over the Gulf airports, which do not really have such indigenous traffic.”

Both Dubai and Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport moved up three places in a ranking of largest airports by seat capacity during the first half of the year.

Dubai is the fastest growing airport, now at number five, overtaking Chicago, Los Angeles and Frankfurt, while Istanbul is 17th, according to CAPA.

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