Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the opening of the new Istanbul International Airport, officially scheduled for Oct. 29, would not be postponed despite a recent strike by workers. Reports AP.
"The opening date is set for October 29," Erdogan told a news conference in Istanbul. "The tests have been conducted ... the airport building is ready, and the stands are very beautiful indeed."
Erdogan made the remarks as speculation mounted after hundreds of workers went on a strike last week at the airport's third workshop in Istanbul.
News sites have reported in recent days that the opening of the new airport, which has not yet been named, could be delayed until December 31.
"None of this is true," said Erdogan, who inspected the workshop on Saturday. On the other hand, he said for the first time that Ataturk International Airport, which is supposed to be replaced by the new airport and turned into a public park, will not close immediately.
Erdogan stressed that "Ataturk airport will not stop its activities immediately, there is a transitional period." He gave no further details.
The new airport on the European side of Istanbul, near the Black Sea, will be the "largest airport in the world,". Unlike Ataturk Airport, the other airport in Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen, will remain open.
In the first stage, the new airport will be able to accommodate 90 million passengers a year, up to 150 million in 2023, the government says. But its rapidly growing construction has been influenced by criticism of more than 30,000 workers.
Hundreds of them were arrested and 24 were jailed last week after demonstrating to demand better conditions.