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article imageIstanbul airport transfer now to be 'gradual'

By AFP     Dec 21, 2018 in World

A transfer of Istanbul's Ataturk airport operations to its new international facility has been delayed and will now happen "gradually" from January, the Turkish transport ministry said on Friday.

Planes and equipment had been due to be moved from Ataturk airport to the new facility on December 31 after its inauguration on October 29 by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"From January 1 2019, the gradual transfer will be accelerated and without compromising the passengers' comfort, flights and ground services will be transferred from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport gradually," the transport ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that from December 10, "new flights were added" after an initial 10 flights a day but did not give details.

Turkish news agency DHA had reported on Tuesday that the large move would happen in March 2019.

Turkish Airlines on Wednesday said the move had been "postponed to a future date" but did not say when exactly.

"Until that time, all our current operations will still be carried out at Istanbul Ataturk Airport," the airline added.

There had already been expectations that the airport, one of a number of mega-projects built under Erdogan's rule, would not be in use fully until 2019 because of delays and a workers' strike over poor conditions.

Turkish officials hope the new airport will make Istanbul a global travel hub linking Europe, Asia and Africa, and Ankara says it will eventually become the world's largest.

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