In a first in Europe, Türkiye is preparing to install a system at Istanbul Airport that will enable three aircraft to independently land and take off simultaneously, a senior official said on Saturday.
The announcement signifies a major step toward enhancing the operational capabilities of Türkiye’s largest airport and one of the biggest civil aviation hubs in the world, aligning with the nation’s ambition to position itself as a leader in aviation infrastructure and services.
Works on the “Triple RWY Operations TRO” were launched in 2022 with the aim of optimizing the use of existing resources at Istanbul Airport, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloğlu said.
“With the project’s implementation, the airport will be able to accommodate three aircraft performing independent triple parallel landings and takeoffs simultaneously,” Uraloğlu noted.
Türkiye plans to commence training on this matter next month and initiate trials within this year, according to the minister.
“This system is only present in the United States, not in Europe. Its introduction in Türkiye will mark a pioneering initiative in Europe,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Istanbul Airport was officially opened in late October 2018 before becoming fully operational in April 2019. Its third runway was inaugurated in June 2020.
The gleaming glass-and-steel structure along the Black Sea coast has managed to turn into one of the most important transit centers in aviation ever since.
The hub can handle 90 million passengers a year in the current phase. The figure is nothing compared to its potential capacity to serve 200 million after completing all phases.
All four phases of the airport’s construction and expansion, including six runways, are expected to be completed by 2028.
The airport served around 76 million passengers in 2023, up from around 52.75 million in 2019. It looks to increase the count to 85 million throughout 2024, Selahattin Bilgen, CEO of its operator, IGA, said earlier this month.
For a fourth consecutive year, the airport was named the busiest in Europe in 2023 with an average of 1,375 flights per day, according to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol).
Bilgen also mentioned that they would implement the first triple parallel runway operation in Europe in 2024, aiming to achieve operations with the highest efficiency and capacity after those in America.
“Istanbul Airport is our pride and joy. We must strengthen its position and capabilities further,” said Uraloğlu.
The adoption of the new system will enable Istanbul Airport to ensure safe and swift air traffic flow, he noted.
The General Directorate of State Airport Authorities (DHMI) and the Eurocontrol have initiated safety analysis studies, which are expected to conclude within this year, Uraloğlu said.
“Türkiye will be among the few countries globally to implement this system.”
Uraloğlu expressed that the system would enable simultaneous independent triple parallel runway usage, enhancing operational efficiency.
The national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) currently holds nearly 80% of the traffic share at Istanbul Airport, which hosts more than 100 airline companies.
“We aim to diversify the airlines operating at the airport. There is demand from foreign carriers, and we seek to attract more international airlines,” said Uraloğlu.
“However, we aim to manage the process in a manner that does not undermine THY’s current position. THY is a significant asset to our nation.”