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New Istanbul airport to open fully only at end of year



ISTANBUL'S new airport will not open fully until the end of this year, a newspaper on Saturday cited the general manager as saying, two months later than an official opening scheduled for the end of this month.

The airport is a centrepiece of a 15-year construction boom under President Tayyip Erdogan. It has an initial planned capacity of 90 million passengers a year, making it one of the world's biggest.

Its official opening had been set for Oct 29, the anniversary of the Turkish Republic's proclamation in 1923, but the general manager, Kadri Samsunlu, said it would only open partially on that date.

"We postponed the big transfer from Ataturk Airport to Dec 31," Hurriyet Daily News quoted Mr Samsunlu as telling a group of reporters visiting the new airport with him. Ataturk is the city's current main airport.

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Mr Samsunlu's company IGA, which will operate the new airport, said last month that work there was on schedule and the planned Oct 29 opening would not be delayed.

Hurriyet said that as of Oct 29, Turkish Airlines will fly from the new airport to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya on domestic routes, with the only international route being to Baku, in Azerbaijan.

Last month, Turkey formally detained dozens of people among hundreds involved in protests over work conditions at the new airport. Work subsequently resumed, with a heavy police presence, according to labour unions. The company said that steps had been taken to improve working conditions and living quarters, which workers say were infested with bedbugs. REUTERS

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