More delays expected to opening of Istanbul’s new airport - La Quotidienne

The massive new Istanbul Airport, which was opened in a grand ceremony in October, is set to see another delay to becoming fully operational due to political and economic problems, the France-based La Quotidienne site said.

March 3, 2019 was announced as the original date for the full transfer of operations from the existing Istanbul Atatürk Airport, but officials are signalling another delay in the flagship project of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

"It seems that the date for the full opening of the major airport may be postponed due to fears that an early move could lead to a disaster at the airport before the local elections on 31 March," the website said.

It said the AKP’s candidate for mayor of Istanbul, Binali Yıldırım, was worried that if the megaproject opened its doors before it was ready, it could lead to problems for the party at the ballot boxes next month.

Contractors who have signed lucrative contracts for the construction and operation of Istanbul Airport could also abandon the public-private partnership project, it said.

Turkish Airlines’ investment and real estate company is preparing to take over between 40 and 60 percent of the shares, it said, making the airline the majority partner of the new airport.

This means that between 2.4 billion euros and 3.6 billion euros of the debt will be transferred to Turkish Airlines and, by extension, to the Turkish state.

Over the next few days, it will become clear whether or not the opening of the giant Istanbul airport will be completed on time, the article said, and in the meantime, the Turkish government will "use all means to put out any fire that might cause damage."