Instanbul Atatürk: An exceptional growth story

Guest Author by Guest Author | Feb 1, 2018

Written by Kemal Ünlü, General Manager, TAV Istanbul

“In the last decade, Turkey has become a global player in the aviation industry, thanks to the successful privatization and liberation policies pursued in the beginning of 2000s. Istanbul Ataturk was one of the first successful airport BOT projects globally. As a result, Turkish Airlines had seen an exceptional growth, new airlines emerged in the market and TAV has developed into a global brand in airport operations. Today, serving approximately 64 m passengers annually, Istanbul Ataturk developed into one of the busiest hubs in Europe. All along this journey, the focus of all our operations had been customer satisfaction. The expertise we have gained in Istanbul Ataturk have carried the TAV brand to 76 airports in 17 countries”.

Awarded with building and operating the new international terminal in 1997, TAV Airports started operations in January 2000 at Istanbul Ataturk, after two years of construction period. TAV operates the state-of-the-art international terminal at Istanbul Ataturk since then and also took over operations of domestic terminal in 2005. 

With 14.7 million inhabitants, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey –and the cultural and economic capital of the country. Ancient home to three empires, the metropolis itself ranks ahead of several European countries in terms of population. Over 27,000 companies with foreign capital shares are hosted in the city, proving its strength as a global business destination. The growth of Turkish economy in the past decade is key to Istanbul Ataturk’s emergence as a business hub. The city attracts millions of foreign visitors every year thanks to its rich history and natural beauties.

Istanbul Ataturk is a global hub with rapidly growing passenger numbers showing a tremendous growth pattern since TAV took over the operations in 2000. Over this course of time, the passenger traffic has shown a tremendous growth and increased to 63.7 million from 14.7 million, proving  Istanbul Ataturk’s slogan of “Prime Location, Global Gateway”. 

Istanbul Ataturk is equipped with the latest technology and automation systems that serve highest efficiency, security and service quality. The high operational efficiency contributes to passenger contentment and customer satisfaction. The spacious terminal building, effective signboards, rich and easily accessible Duty Free shops, various F&B points, primeclass and other passenger services provide a hassle free and memorable airport experience to passengers.

Istanbul Ataturk is linked to more than 280 destinations as 125 scheduled airlines from various countries serve passengers. Thanks to the variety of operating airlines and the destinations served, Istanbul Ataturk offers many convenient connection opportunities, mostly on Turkish Airlines, which has one of the widest networks among its competitors. With its global network coverage and strong home base carrier, Istanbul Ataturk operates as a major hub in its region. The transfer passenger share of Istanbul Ataturk has surged to 39% from 15% in 2008. The perfect geographical location and the strong network of the airport offer convenient flight times and time efficient connection opportunities to African, Middle Eastern and European destinations.  Istanbul Ataturk has also been strengthening its long haul network in recent years. 20 new long haul destinations were added to Istanbul Ataturk network in recent years including Seoul, Los Angeles, Montreal, Houston, Toronto, Buenos Aires and Boston.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport provides its passengers the opportunity of an easy and comfortable accommodation in the classy airport hotel. The facility is operated by BTA, a subsidiary of TAV Airports Holding. The Airport Hotel has two parts: the airside and the landside, offering 46 and 82 comfortable and well equipped rooms respectively. The rooms on the airside are available not only for daily bookings but also for hourly ones, providing international transfer passengers with the opportunity to refresh between flights with long connection times. The airside part of the Airport Hotel is located within the international terminal building, next to the duty free area. The arriving international transfer passengers could move straight to their hotel room, freshen up while waiting for their connecting flight, and then directly go to the gate at boarding time.

As a subsidiary of TAV Airports –which operates at 17 airports in seven countries as of January 2018-, Istanbul Ataturk has strived to minimize the effects of its operations on the environment, while aiming at the highest possible level of passenger satisfaction. Accordingly, the airport is a long-standing participant of the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program (ACA), and currently accredited at Level 3 – Optimization. The company also discloses its environmental performance through the Carbon Disclosure Program (CDP). In recent years Istanbul Ataturk undertook a comprehensive accessibility program, and it has been recognized by Vienna-based Zero Project as a best-practice. In 2015, the general customer satisfaction level at Istanbul Atatürk Airport increased by approximately 10 percent compared to 2014 to 3.86. The same year, Istanbul Atatürk Airport reached the top in the “Most Improved Airport in Europe” category. As part of the policy to further stakeholder collaboration, a “Collaborative Decision Making” mechanism at Istanbul Atatürk Airport together with DHMI and Turkish Airlines is in place since 2011. Based on the exchange of information between institutions, the mechanism enables the efficient use of resources and airport capacities.


The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

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