Istanbul Airport (IGA) is focused on integrating new airlines in addition to cementing its position as the hub of flag carrier Turkish Airlines, according to acting CEO Selahattin Bilgen.

Speaking at the Routes World 2023 event in Istanbul, Bilgen said it was not possible to reach IGA’s target of 200 million passengers per year without welcoming a wide variety of airlines.

“Our strategy has been to grow with newcomers and this includes LCCs [low-cost carriers],” he said.

“We have started with three LCCs this year. You cannot feed 200 million passengers with one single airline.”

Recent additions to the IGA departure board include China Eastern Airlines and Thai Airways. There are now 95 airlines using the hub and IGA is seeking to reach the 100 milestone by the end of the year.

Istanbul Airport provides an important link between Europe and Asia and welcomed its 200 millionth passenger in May 2023.

But IGA has plans to grow further. Once all the stages of its development are completed, Istanbul Airport will have a capacity of 200 million passengers each year.

Bilgen added: “We are trying to be careful because [welcoming new airlines] should not distort or cannibalise our existing carriers in the region.

“Istanbul has a very unique position, it is offering advantages to different segments. There is an underpenetrated market which tends to fly point-to-point, people going for a weekend to certain cities.

“We are clearly putting a strategy not to cannibalise each other but at the same time we welcome all newcomers. We are managing that process very delicately and we would like all newcomers to be happy with these operations.

“Having this huge capacity available, we provide all the airlines even at peak hours with their slots at competitive rates. That’s why there is a route for all newcomers operating with different models.”
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