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Turkish Airlines set to finance construction of Istanbul's 3rd airport



TURKISH Airlines is in talks with 12 to 13 Turkish and Chinese banks to secure between US$800 million and US$1 billion in financing to construct its facilities at Istanbul's new airport, and a deal is almost ready, three sources close to the matter said.

Istanbul's third airport, which Turkey says will become the biggest in the world, is slated to open on Oct 29. A total of 10.25 billion euros (S$16.26 billion) have been invested in the airport, which will have an initial passenger capacity of 90 million per year.

Turkish Airlines is in talks with five local banks and various Chinese banks, including ICBC, the sources told Reuters. Two of them said the other four Turkish lenders to provide financing were Is Bank, Yapi Kredi, Alternatifbank and Ziraat Katilim.

The airline and the banks did not respond to requests for comment.

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"(Turkish Airlines) will make investments in buildings, customer sale offices, conveyor belts, and needs financing for them," one of the sources said.

The deal is expected to be signed in July, another source said.

Chinese banks are eager to provide financing, another of the sources said, adding that maturity terms for the loans were between three and five years, with a grace period of one year.

The third airport is among a series of mega-projects promoted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won a new five-year term in Turkey's presidential election on Sunday.

Other big infrastructure projects include a third bridge across the Bosphorus, which opened in 2016, and plans to build a huge canal in Istanbul that would render a large chunk of the city an island.

Incoming flights will be directed to the new airport from the existing Ataturk Airport as soon as the new one opens on Oct. 29. The transition to the new site will be completed in 48 hours, officials say. Ataturk Airport is set to close down.

Like Ataturk, the new airport, which has not yet been named, is on the European side of Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people, that straddles Europe and Asia. Istanbul's other airport, Sabiha Gokcen, is on the Asian side of the city.

Turkish Airlines said in May that it had a loss of 314 million lira (S$92.2 million) in the first quarter of the year, narrowing 78 per cent from the loss in the same period a year earlier. Results showed first-quarter sales had climbed 44 per cent to 10.53 billion lira. REUTERS

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