Turkey broke ground yesterday on a new mega-airport in Istanbul, due to be one of the largest in the world, in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said it was a “historic day.”
He pledged the airport, which he called a “victory monument,” would create thousands of new jobs.
“Turkey is not the old Turkey,” he said, hailing the project as part of an overall effort to modernise the country.
Erdogan’s speech, laden with jibes at his political opponents, was met with loud cheers by a large crowd attending the event.
A consortium of five companies won the $30 billion tender to build and operate Istanbul’s third airport, which will have capacity for some 150 million passengers annually upon completion in 2018.
The construction coincides with the dramatic expansion of Turkish Airlines, which will use the six-runway airport as a hub.
The airport has not been without controversy, however, with environmentalists objecting to the destruction of forest areas and lakes to make way for it, and accusations — though no official charges — of corruption on the part of officials heading the consortium.
Ataturk International Airport, currently Istanbul’s largest, sees about 37 million passengers a year, while Sabiha Gokcen on the city’s Asian side, has about 13 million people passing through annually.
The airport is one of several mega-projects Turkey is planning ahead of 2023, when it marks 100 years since the founding of the modern republic.
The Marmaray railway tunnel was built under the Bosphorus strait last year, connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
There are also plans to ease congestion on the Bosphorus seaway by building a parallel shipping route. The project, called Kanal Istanbul, would connect the Black Sea to the Marmara and on to the Mediterranean.
A third bridge over the Bosphorus is also in the works.
Source: Oman Daily Observer