All change as Turkish Airlines set to move to new Istanbul Airport from April 2019

It’s been due since the official opening of Istanbul Airport last October, and finally Turkey’s largest air carrier has confirmed it is taking up permanent residence at the city’s newest – and the world’s largest – airport.

Turkish Airlines have announced that from 03:00 on Friday 5 April 2019 it will start the transition to move from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport. The complex move is expecting to take two days to complete.

The airline’s final flight from Atatürk Airport will be to Singapore. All Turkish Airlines scheduled flights from the old airport will cease at 02:00 on April 6.

It’s first flight after “the Great Move” will be from Istanbul Airport to Ankara Esenboğa Airport.

The change, which Turkish Airlines describes as “unique in the history of global aviation”, will result in the temporary closure of Atatürk Airport and Istanbul Airport between 02:00 and 14:00 of April 6 to allow for the huge move.

Scheduled passenger flights into these two airports will be redirected to another airport, delayed or cancelled.

This will allow freight “worth of 5 thousand trucking rigs” with enough equipment to “cover 33 football pitches” to be moved between the two airports. Some 10,000 pieces of equipment weighing approximately 47,300 tons will be moved, among them aircraft towing apparatus each weighing 44 tons.

Superman, aka actor Henry Cavill poses with Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci at New York premiere of Batman vs Superman, 20 Mar. 2016


The airline estimates the distance travelled during the Great Move will be equivalent to orbiting the earth ten times. Over 1800 personnel will be overseeing the transfer during the planned 45-hour move.

Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı said, “After this great move, which will be watched by the entire world, we will wake up to a new morning. It will be a morning, which the sun shining on Turkish Aviation with the flights operated at Istanbul Airport. I convey my hopes that it will bring a great fortune to both our country and company.”

Switching airport codes

The new Istanbul Airport. Photo © IAG


From 6 April, the codes of the two main Istanbul airports will also switch. The new Istanbul Airport will start to use the old airport’s IST code, while Atatürk Airport, which will remain open for cargo and VIP passenger flights, will switch to using the ISL code that was initially allocated to the new Istanbul Airport in October 2018.

The switching of codes has been approved by global aviation body IATA.

Passengers should check if flights affected during ‘Great Move’

Passengers set to fly to or from either of the two Istanbul airports on 5 and 6 April 2019 should check with whom they booked their flights to see if their travel plans will be affected.