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Istanbul airports prepare to open on May 28 amid pandemic

Istanbul airports prepare to open on May 28 amid pandemic

Istanbul airports are looking at new trends and ways to adapt their operations to a post-coronavirus period.

The journey through airports will change for everyone, as passengers will have to abide by a new set of rules, including wearing gloves and masks.

If given necessary approval, Istanbul Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport are looking to start welcoming passengers again as of May 28, starting first with domestic flights, according to the chief executive officers of both airports, which together served nearly 90 million passengers last year.

“A new era in aviation will begin from now on,” said Ersel Göral, the CEO of Sabih Gökçen, Istanbul’s main air hub on the city’s Asian side which had temporarily halted services on March 28 amid measures to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Flights are aimed to start after Ramadan Bayram, or Eid al-Fitr, the feast after the holy month of Ramadan, to be celebrated at the end of May, said Kadri Samsunlu, the CEO of Istanbul Airport operator, IGA.

Having had its first phase officially opened in October 2018 and taken over air traffic from Atatürk Airport on April 6 last year, the new Istanbul Airport was the busiest airport in the country last year, hosting 52.6 million passengers and serving nearly 330,000 planes, according to the General Directorate of the State Airports Authority (DHMİ) data. Sabiha Gokçen Airport was the third most active airport, serving 35.47 million passengers.

The overall number of air passengers – including transit passengers – in Turkey totaled nearly 209.1 million in 2019, a 0.9% year-on-year decline.

The introduction of coronavirus-related travel restrictions and the closure of national borders led to a 41.3% year-on-year decrease in the four-month figure that stood at 33.7 million, according to DHMİ.

As part of the new rules, anyone entering the terminal at the airport will be obligated to wear gloves and face masks. Passengers will have to report their destination addresses at airports.