By Ugur Aslanhan
ISTANBUL (AA) – The new building at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport’s domestic terminal — representing a €26 million ($30.5 million) investment — will boost the airport's annual passenger capacity to over 40 million, Istanbul’s governor said on Tuesday.
"It started with a capacity of 25 million people, reached 31 million, and now is being raised to 41 million," Vasip Sahin said at the building’s opening ceremony.
Looking ahead, he added: "With the second runway, this capacity will reach 63 million."
Ismail Demir, Turkey's defense industry undersecretary, said that despite the opening of Istanbul's new airport this fall, the expansion of Sabiha Gokcen will continue.
Set to open on Oct. 29, the upcoming third airport will be the world's biggest project built from scratch.
In the first phase, the airport will welcome 90 million passengers annually. In the second phase, expected in 2023, the number is projected to rise to 150-250 million.
"We hope the second runway, the second terminal, and the expansion will come one after another," said Demir.
Ersel Goral, the CEO of Sabiha Gokcen Airport Investment Development and Operation (ISG), said that airport's passenger traffic grew eightfold over the last decade, last year reaching 31.2 million persons.
"We expect the second runway — which will cost approximately $1 billion — to be completed in 2019," Goral said.
In the first half of 2018, more than 97.6 million people travelled through airports in Turkey, according to the State Airports Authority (DHMI) Directorate.
Some 1.38 billion people passed through the country's airports during the last 10 years, said DHMI data.