Istanbul Airport outperformed most of the largest European hubs not only in June but also since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Olivier Jankovec, director-general of the airports trade association ACI Europe.
Istanbul Airport was Europe’s busiest airport in June, welcoming a whopping 5.996 million passengers, and nearly overtook its pre-pandemic levels, according to ACI Europe data released last week.
“This primarily reflects the fact that Türkiye has followed much less restrictive approaches than other European states when it comes to lockdowns and travel restrictions,” Jankovec told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
He said the large size of the country’s domestic market was the second important driver behind the airport’s performance, as domestic air traffic was “clearly” much more resilient during the pandemic.
“Finally, Istanbul Airport benefits from its state-of-the-art facilities and quality infrastructure and services, coupled with a strong and ambitious home-based network airlines (Turkish Airlines), whose route network is diversified and truly global,” Jankovec said.
“Istanbul Airport’s check-in areas, baggage delivery processes, aircraft parking and taxi facilities, as well as providing convenience to our guests at every stage of their travel, increased its preferability,” Ahmet Bolat, the chairman of Turkish Airlines’ board and executive committee, has told Anadolu Agency.
On the crisis at many European airports due to delays, cancelations, and strikes, Jankovec said the sector’s players are scrambling to meet a boom in post-pandemic travel demand.
After being hit hard by the pandemic, air transport has seen a dynamic recovery since the start of spring, he said, noting how airports and airlines were caught off-guard when travel restrictions were lifted without advance notice in most European countries.
“At the same time, many airports but also ground-handing companies, which had reduced their workforce to be able to stay afloat, have found it extremely challenging to get people back to work at the airport,” Jankovec said.
It has been difficult to upscale facilities and services to match the sudden boom in air travel demand, he stressed.