Published On: Sun, May 12th, 2024
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Beautiful city’s airport with 76m passengers a year set to become Europe’s busiest | City & Business | Finance

Istanbul believes that it can permanently dethrone Heathrow as the busiest airport in Europe within five years, given its growth rate as well as ongoing delays to the expansion of Britain’s hub airport.

Since it was opened in October 2018, Istanbul’s traffic has grown from a standing start to 76 million passengers in 2023, which is expected to grow to 85m this year. In 2023, there were 79m passengers at Heathrow, which reclaimed the title of busiest airport after three years.

Although both have had to deal with the pandemic and its after-effects, Istanbul board member Mehmet Kalyoncu believes that within three to five years, it will have built a lasting lead over Heathrow. Istanbul believes it can go on to challenge the likes of Dubai and Atlanta as the world’s busiest airport.

Kalyoncu said Covid has given Istanbul an advantage over rivals like Heathrow, whose expansion has been held up for decades, despite the estimated £60 billion of economic benefits and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs it would bring.

“The pandemic was an advantage for us as we were the last major hub airport to open before Covid, while many airports postponed their expansion plans as airlines cut flights. These airports don’t have a plan, so we have the advantage to grow bigger,” he explained.

“Our fourth runway is under construction and our (one) terminal can handle 120m passengers a year. Heathrow needs to invest; we don’t need to spend a penny. Even if they start investing now, they are still five years behind.”

He said if Britain is serious about harnessing the economic benefits of aviation it needs to move on from trying to expand Heathrow and having three major airports serve London and instead build a new airport to replace them.

“London is a global city but the airport capacity is insufficient. You should do what we did – put up new land for a large mega airport,” he said.

Elsewhere, on Wednesday holiday giant Tui will release its last set of results as a London Stock Exchange-listed company after more than 40 years on the exchange. Tui will leave the LSE in June after shareholders approved plans for a single listing in Frankfurt.

Chief executive Sebastian Ebel is expected to say that Tui’s second-quarter revenues rose 13 percent to Eur3.6bn (£3.1bn), while its net losses shrank 21.5 percent to £246.1m. On Thursday, EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren is tipped to say its first-half seasonal losses are down nearly £60m to £353.7m.

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