World aviation has moved to its new heart. İstanbul New Airport, one of the greatest projects of the Republican era, was opened with a magnificent ceremony on October 29,2018, 95th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
We vhere looking forward to the inauguration of the new airport. Atatürk Airport has provided us with great services. However, a new airport was needed for further growth. The new airport open the way for Turkish civil aviation with its 5 runways and 200 million passenger capacity. It also provides more growth potential for Turkish Airlines.
In the last 15 years, Turkey has experienced more than 10% annual increases in both aircraft and passenger movement. Former main airport of Turkey Atatürk Airport (AHL) which was one of the busiest airports in Europe has ranked among the top five busiest airports in Europe by passenger traffic since 2013. As every other important hub airports in the world, AHL was facing capacity constraints.
In 2017, AHL and Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) handled more than 95 million passengers (the number of passengers at AHL was 63.7 million and SAW was 31.4 million). Due to these high figures, Atatürk airport could barely cope with the increasing demand from airlines, there were no new slots for additional flights, no space to build an additional runway, and not enough aircraft stands at the Atatürk Airport site, as the airport is surrounded by the city in all sides. This situation has not only affected passenger flights but also the cargo flights. Because of the limited capacity, it was not possible to allow additional cargo or charter flights to the airport. Also, existing cargo terminal capacities and facilities were not sufficient even for today's operations, including road connections. Although the Airport is very near to the Sea, maritime transport connection and integration was not possible at all. As a result, considering all these problems and the future of our country in aviation, the new one was essential and inevitable. I believe that Istanbul New Airport meet all of these demands.
In this respect, as a country that has set ambitious targets such as getting among the top 10 economies in the world and taking a share of 1.5% from global trade, we attach great importance to the İstanbul New Airport and Turkish Airlines in line with our 2023 strategic goals.
At the beginning of 2018, as Turkish Exporter's Assembly (TIM) we stated that this year will be a record breaking year in our history. As a matter of fact, both the protectionist policies and trade wars that came up in global trade and the speculative pressure we experienced in the Turkish Lira did not prevent us from reaching our record targets this year. We are continuing to benefit from the steps we took in 2017.
The domestic demand and consumption-weighted growth strategy is now being replaced by an export-oriented strategy which supports domestic production, which is very important to get foreign trade surplus and rise to a prominent position in the region and in the World.
In this strategy, Istanbul New Airport assumes a great responsibility. The new airport will be one of the largest airport in the world when its all phases are completed, which will make Turkey a logistics center. It will be at the center of an extensive flight network as one of the most important hubs of the world. The new airport also aims to become one of the biggest cargo hubs on earth through increasing investments. In the first phase, cargo capacity will be 2.5 million tons. On full completion, Istanbul will have 1.4 million square meters of Cargo space, handling 5.5 million tons of Cargo capacity. With this new investment, our companies will be able to access the global logistics network far more easily and use the advantages for export opportunities. We are pretty sure that new airport will make great contribution to the Turkish economy and exporters, by becoming a great transportation and logistics hub with its strategic location in the middle of three continents. As Turkish President mentioned that “this is not only an airport but a victory monument.”