|At the opening celebrations for the new Sabiha Gökçen terminal, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had the honour of cutting the ribbon. Since the opening a few weeks ago, the airport has seen a large number of new route launches.|
Named after the first aviatrix in Turkey (and one of eight adopted children of Turkey’s first President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk), Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen airport is on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. It has grown rapidly in recent years and is now ranked the fourth busiest airport in the country after Istanbul Atatürk, Antalya and Izmir. The airport is operated by a consortium which includes India’s GMR group and MAHB (Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad). At the end of October, the New International Terminal was opened, which is designed to handle up to 25 million passengers annually.
Domestic traffic accounts for just under 70% of demand at present with Pegasus, SunExpress and Turkish Airlines the main protagonists. In the first ten months of 2009, domestic traffic has grown by 52% while international traffic is up 21%.
Pegasus leads way; Turkish Airlines adds international routes
|Last week saw the addition of a Turkish Airlines service between Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen and Amsterdam Schiphol. Metin Gözuaçik, director of Turkish Airlines Netherlands celebrates with Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen’s CEO Gökhan Buğday.|
Fast-growing local airline Pegasus is based at the airport and, according to latest OAG data, is serving 28 destinations from the airport this winter; 15 in Turkey and 13 across Europe, including five destinations in Germany, Amsterdam, Basel, Brussels, Copenhagen, London Stansted and Zurich. Less obvious destinations are Ercan in Cyprus and Krasnodar in Russia.
Turkish Airlines recently launched seven international routes from the airport (to Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Hannover, London Stansted, Moscow Domodedovo and Stuttgart) to complement its domestic network of nine routes.
SunExpress, a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, also has a base at the airport and this winter is offering flights to 10 German destinations as well as Amsterdam and Zurich. In addition it also serves 12 domestic destinations helping to provide feed for its international routes.
Air Arabia, easyJet, Germanwings and Jazeera also present
As the historic meeting point between Europe and Asia it is no surprise to find an interesting mix of non-Turkish carriers at the airport. European LCCs are represented by easyJet (serving Basel, London Gatwick and London Luton), germanwings (serving Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund, Hamburg, Stuttgart) and Norwegian (serving Oslo and Stockholm), though several of these routes are summer-only. Now defunct LCCs MyAir and SkyEurope also used to serve the airport from Bari and Bratislava respectively.
Middle Eastern LCCs Air Arabia and Jazeera serve Sharjah and Kuwait, while Air Arabia Maroc has flights to Casablanca. Less well-known carriers include Daghestan Airlines, which serves Makhachkala, and Kish Air, which offers flights to Tehran.