The number of international flight passengers in Turkey surged 10.5 percent on an annual basis, reaching 84.8 million in the first nine months of 2019, the country’s General Directorate of the State Airports Authority (DHMİ) announced on Oct. 8.
However, the number of domestic passengers fell 12.7 percent year-on-year to hit 76.4 million in January-September, DHMİ data showed.
Nearly 161.5 million air travelers, including transit passengers, went through Turkish airports, down 1.9 percent during the same period.
The airports served nearly 1.6 million planes, including over flights, from January to September, a figure which remained unchanged from the same period last year.
DHMİ data showed that cargo traffic was also down 15.4 percent annually to almost 2.5 million tons as of end-September.
The new Istanbul Airport, whose first phase officially opened last fall and which took over air traffic from the former main Ataturk Airport on April 6, was the busiest airport in the country, hosting 35.6 million passengers and serving 222,435 planes.
With a full capacity of 200 million passengers annually after the completion of all four phases with six runways by 2028, Istanbul Airport is set to become a global aviation hub hosting more than 100 airlines and flights to over 300 destinations around the world.
According to the data, the airport in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya was the second busiest venue with 29.3 million travelers, nearly 82 percent of which are international flight passengers.
Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Istanbul’s main air hub on the city’s Asian side, was the third active airport, serving 26.6 million passengers. Sabiha Gökçen served nearly 27 million foreign passengers, a strong 20 percent increase on an annual basis.
In the first nine months of the year, 16 million domestic travelers used the airport, translating into a 6 percent decline from a year ago.
DHMİ also reported that Adnan Menderes Airport in İzmir, another major tourist destination, hosted a total of 9.6 million passengers in January-September, pointing to a 9 percent drop on an annual basis.
Passenger traffic at Esenboğa Airport in the capital Ankara declined by 20 percent year-on-year to 10.6 million, data also showed. Domestic passengers declined by 22 percent to 8.8 million, while international passengers dropped by one percent to 1.75 million.
In September alone, Turkey’s airports served a total of 21 million passengers. Domestic passenger traffic stood at 8.7 million, while 12.2 million international travelers used the country’s airports in the month.
In 2018, air passenger traffic increased by 9 percent to 211 million, with domestic passengers rising 3.1 percent to 113 million and international passengers up 17 perc.
Hurriyet Dail News