Once completed, it is also expected to become the world’s busiest airport with up to 200 million passengers passing through per year.
On October 29, Turkey’s Republic Day, the first phase of Istanbul’s new airport will open 22 miles north of the city center. While the project will be completed in four phases, the first phase will open with three runways and a terminal that can accommodate up to 90 million passengers annually, according to iGA, the company that is responsible for operating the airport for the next 25 years.
Once completed, the 29.5 square-mile Istanbul New Airport will be larger than the island of Manhattan. With six runways, it will be able to accommodate up to 200 million travelers per year, making it the busiest airport in the world. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport currently holds that title with 104 million passengers passing through its terminals in 2017. Atatürk International Airport, Istanbul’s current flight hub, had 64 million passengers in 2017, but the aging airport is overloaded, which is why the new airport is being built.
The new airport’s terminal is being built to reflect the style of Istanbul’s domed mosques and baths, while the air traffic control tower’s shape is inspired by a tulip, one of the traditional symbols of Istanbul.
While the new airport—which is expected to cost almost $12 billion—is reflective of Turkey’s recent economic boom, it is not without controversies. The New York Times reports that not only have villagers been “shoved off” their land to make room for the airport, but also many of the construction companies that have received public money to build the airport have close ties to President Erdoğan.