Will Istanbul’s beautiful new airport fail on account of clouds and fog? Some experts fear the answer is yes.
Last week, flights to Istanbul from the following cities were diverted to Çorlu, an airport 60 miles west of the new airport:
Per Ahval, an independent Turkish news agency:
This came as little surprise to the aviation experts who have been warning since the project was conceived that the location chosen for the new airport lacked cover from the northerly winds blowing in from the Black Sea, and would also make it susceptible to disruptions caused by cloud and fog.
It’s not like Istanbul’s new airport is the only airport susceptible to weather delays. The description above could easily characterize San Francisco International Airport as well…or even London Heathrow.
But one reason the airport’s opening may have been delayed was to avoid the colder winter months, where clouds and fog occur on a far more frequent basis. As far back as 2014, weather experts warned that the location selected for the new airport was susceptible to high winds from the Black Sea, encountered storms on 107 days of the year, and experienced 65 days of intense cloud cover.
The ramifications are costly for airlines and annoying for passengers. Diverting to Çorlu burns additional fuel and is quite inconvenient for connecting passengers. Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport, located on the Asian side of Istanbul, cannot handle many diversions and Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul’s old main airport (now coded ISL), will become an ironic “back-up” airport for the airport it was replaced by.
There are other issues with the new airport I won’t even get into – environmental impacts on the nearby forrest and a problem of water accumulation. We also know that construction was so rushed that at least 55 people died during the construction of the airport. In short, bad news. But the airport is now built. The old Ataturk International Airport has been decommissioned as a commercial hub. And the new airport is quite beautiful.
The sad thing right now is that there are no solutions…it is difficult to fight topography and meteorology. The winter months will be worse than the spring. Be prepared.
I’m holding off a visit to Istanbul until Turkish starts flying its new business class product. While potential delays will not stop me from flying to Istanbul, it is sad that so many are now saying “see I told you so” as weather systems bring delays to more flights.
image: Istanbul Airport