Istanbul Airport – Cargo City
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Istanbul Airport – Cargo City

Issue 3 - 2020
Istanbul Airport – Cargo City
Melih Mengü - Advisor to CEO, IGA

Istanbul, with its strategic location in the crossroads of east and west, is able to further contribute to Turkey`s economy in terms of aviation operations. Based on this idea, the construction activities of Istanbul Airport were initiated in order to benefit from the geographical location of Istanbul more effectively and to meet the needs of our rapidly growing flagship THY. The need for a new airport emerged based on the fact that the existing capacity of Ataturk Airport had become insufficient to keep pace with the growth of Turkey`s aviation activity. The tender for Istanbul Airport was realized in 2013 and the site delivery to IGA, the successful bidder, was made in May 2015. Istanbul Airport, which is Turkey’s largest infrastructure construction project, was completed in a record period of 42 months, and was opened by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a grand ceremony on October 29, 2018. So far, Istanbul Airport has been on the agenda with its passenger-based features such as the number of passengers, bridges, passport counters, check-in counters, but on the other hand it has considerable potential with its autonomous, smart business management that regulates cargo transportation, services and infrastructure. With the completion of the facilities of Turkish Cargo and the closure of Atatürk Airport to cargo airline flights, Istanbul Airport will come to the forefront more within the country and abroad with its superior cargo services. Turkey’s unique geographical location within a distance of just a 5-hour flight from Europe, Middle East, Asia, Northern Eastern Europe and its characteristic as a natural hub between the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas has been increasing the strategic importance of cargo and logistics operations. As of today, Istanbul Airport provides transportation activities to 300 destinations, 52 of which are domestic and 250 of which are international, (133 of which are 3-hour destinations) in a total of 120 countries (60 of which are capitals). The addition of long-haul flights with wide-bodied aircraft and flights to over 200 destinations with narrow-bodied aircraft will contribute greatly to Turkey`s passenger and cargo potential. With the inclusion of transit passenger and cargo activities in all these operations, Istanbul Airport will start to become a very efficient connection point for Turkish Airlines, as well as cargo airlines and airport stakeholders. Having hosted many civilizations for centuries, Istanbul, one of the world`s leading trade centers due to its unique location, has become one of the most important metropolises in the world today thanks to its ever-growing economy and expanding flight network. Istanbul Airport - Cargo City, with its geographical location and high standards of security and efficiency services, is expected to be an important part of the economic growth of Istanbul and at the same time to become one of the most important air cargo and logistics centers for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it is important to mention that the provision of fast, uninterrupted, safe and comfortable transportation and connections to and from the airport is necessary in order for the Istanbul Airport to become a reputable hub and to ensure the sustainability of the economic growth. In this context, in addition to the multi-transport infrastructure as well as airway and highway connections to Istanbul Airport, plans have been made to connect the railways within the next five years. When all the phases of this investment are completed, Istanbul Airport - Cargo City will be amongst the top five airports in the world with its qualified management capability and operational structure. The planning of Istanbul Airport – Cargo City was made considering the needs of the air cargo industry and the examples of the cargo cities in the world, and within the framework of the master plan, the operations of Air Cargo Carriers, Bonded and Duty-Free Warehouses, Ground Handling Companies, Cargo Agencies, Cargo Shipping Companies, Courier Companies and Public Institutions have been gathered in the same location. Most importantly, cargo activities have also been initiated with this business model. The first phase of Istanbul Airport - Cargo City was established on 1.4 million m2, and as of its official launch date, the cargo handling capacity was 1.5 million tons and the target in 2021 was determined as 5.5 million tons, and all plans were designed in this direction. Many activities have been launched by local and foreign companies at Istanbul Airport - Cargo City, such as agency offices and customs officers providing cargo, fast courier-mail, logistics, and temporary storage services. Specifically, there are cold chain warehouses on 9,000 m2, valuable and fragile goods warehouses, and live animal storage areas on 5,000 m2. The business model of the airport operator IGA has planned for the allocation of space for all public buildings, especially the Customs building, the agency building free warehouses apart from the all buildings and to support the stakeholders in carrying out their own operations. Exceptional infrastructure and operational efficiency Cargo City is located between the 1st and 2nd runways, at the west of the terminal building. The Aircraft Maintenance Hangars and the Air Traffic Control Tower are located in the north of this area, and all the structures were established towards the south. The main purpose in this planning was to be able to bring cargo aircraft to the parking position within a short time and to immediately departed cargo aircraft after completing cargo handling operations. In this context, Cargo City is located in the north-south direction, and the warehouses and other buildings are located next to the runways in the east and west from the area where the city was first entered. In the area in front of the warehouses, trucks are able to park on loading-unloading ramps established in close proximity to the inside of the warehouses with a distance of less than 50 meters from parked cargo aircraft. Cargo pallets under passenger aircraft that are parked in lots close to the terminal and passenger walkways are transported by ground handling companies to various warehouses at Cargo City via 3 different tunnels on the apron. The cargo handling process has been considerably facilitated by the air cargo carriers` own aircraft parking positions in front of the warehouses. At Cargo City, where more than 29 wide-bodied cargo aircraft can take parking positions simultaneously, parking positions are located right in front of the warehouses. The efficient and effective operational infrastructure also facilitates access to passenger terminals and remote parking lots from these locations. With the completion of the 4th runway, it will be possible to establish a second cargo city between the 3rd and 4th runways, such as between the 1st and 2nd runway. Istanbul Airport flight operations The operations of cargo aircraft at Istanbul Airport - Cargo City launched on April 10, 2019, and as of today, 74 airlines carrying cargoes onboard passenger aircraft, as well as 9 cargo airlines including Turkish Cargo, MNG, Lufthansa, Qatar, SilkWay, Egypt Air, Atlas Air, ASL Airlines (FedEx) and Uzbekistan Air have been performing activities, and 4 of which are cargo airline companies that did not fly to Atatürk Airport previously. In addition, 11 passenger airlines have started to fly to Istanbul for the first time with the launch of Istanbul Airport. Monthly cargo flights are realized at an average frequency of 110-120, while passenger flights are at an average frequency of 1,300 per day. At the end of the 10-month period following the launch, approximately 60% of the total cargo volume of Ataturk Airport and Istanbul Airport had been made through Istanbul Airport. It is planned that the facilities of DHL Express will become operational by the end of 2020 and the new terminal of Turkish Cargo will be operational by March 2021. DHL, UPS and FedEx plan to conduct their Eurasia operations via Istanbul Airport, which is a natural hub due to its geostrategic location in the middle of Europe, Asia and Africa. Istanbul Airport Cargo City, with an area of 1.4 million square meters and a cargo handling capacity of 1.5 million tons will provide a significant contribution to Turkey`s economy. Most importantly, Istanbul Airport is a major competitor of Hong-Kong, Memphis, Dubai and Frankfurt airports in terms of volume and operations with its Cargo Airline Parking capacity. With the activation of other phases of Cargo City, the commissioning of new runways and the increase in flight frequencies, Istanbul Airport Cargo City is expected to reach a 5.5-million-ton cargo handling capacity. With its smart facilities and buildings equipped with cutting-edge technology and due to the autonomous and smart business management model, Istanbul Airport will start to reap the fruits of its investment in the concept of future airports and will rapidly become one of the leading players in the aviation industry


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