Istanbul Airport operator İGA Havalimani İşletmesi (İGA) is looking forward to ‘an even better year in 2020’, despite the seriousness of the Covid-19 crisis, which is having a debilitating impact on the tourism, aviation and DF&TR sectors.
At the time of writing (18 March), there was just one death in Istanbul as a result of the virus. But the number of confirmed cases, however, was increasing rapidly.
Currently, nationals of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden are prohibited from entering the country. Passengers who have transited through or have been in Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Korea Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Spain or Sweden in the past 14 days are also forbidden from transiting or entering Turkey (this does not Turkish nationals or residents of Turkey).
Travellers arriving from Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Korea Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Spain or Sweden in the past 14 days are unable to transit or enter Turkey. Turkish nationals or residents are exempt from this ruling.
After becoming fully operational last April, the airport handled 52 million passengers between 6 April 2019 and 31 December 2019, according to a statement from Kadri Samsunlu, CEO, İGA Istanbul Airport. The statement is featured in a recent İGA newsletter seen by TRBusiness, which was distributed on 13 March 2020.
In the first two months of 2020, Istanbul Airport served 9.9 million passengers, of which 2.4 million were on domestic flights and 7.5 million on international flights.
[Click the below video showing how Istanbul Airport is trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19]
As reported, the opening of the 800sq m Luxury Square at the airport, last month, marked the finalisation of the duty free rental process across the vast retail space. The Luxury Square area (pictured below) is operated by ATÜ Duty Free, the partnership between Unifree Duty Free/Gebr. Heinemann and TAV Airport Holdings.
Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Samsunlu emphasises the need to look forward. The launch of a third runway is among the developments in the pipeline, which will increase the number of aircraft movements from the current 80 take-offs/landings per hour to 120.
As a result of the third runway, slot flexibility will improve and taxiing times will reduce up to 50%. This will enable Istanbul Airport to operate more smoothly and offer even more connections without compromising fast handling, according to Samsunlu.
He commented: “As the world is globally affected with the unprecedented health turmoil of Covid-19, we are working closely with the Ministry of Health in Turkey to meet and exceed the highest standards of health and hygiene for our guests and employees.
“We have taken every reasonable step to reduce all safety and health risks at Istanbul Airport. Preventive and protective measures include thermal camera surveillance, hand sanitiser points, disinfection of common spaces and awareness-raising training for staff members.
“Even as Covid-19 negatively affects the aviation industry, we believe we will overcome this challenging time as a world and as a country.”
In conversation with TRBusiness at the recent inauguration of the aforementioned Luxury Square concept (27 February), Ersan Arcan, CEO, ATÜ Duty Free said: “We had a very positive start to the year, but the virus has taken away our Chinese customers which have a positive attitude towards luxury purchases.
“With Iran and other Middle Eastern countries now suffering, the loss [of Chinese customers] will unfortunately cause further further damage.”
Despite the severity of the crisis, Arcan remained defiant. He vowed: “We are a crisis resilient market with lots of other nationalities and have to manage this. We are not acting under panic, but taking precautions to try and control the situation. There is a fear this story will become bigger and bigger in Turkey.”