New airport to help Turkey reach new heights

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With the new airport at Istanbul open and ready for business, Shukru Can, managing director of ULS Airlines has high hopes for the future of Turkish aviation.

After a particularly strong year in 2016, Can tells Air Cargo Week that 2017 and 2018 remained stable. In 2016, ULS carried 67,000 tonnes, followed by about 63,000 tonnes in 2017 and 2018, though 2019 is not looking as good.

He says: “Cargo gauges are not inspiring for the first quarter of 2019. Expectations for the remainder of 2019 is better than first quarter for sure. But numbers at the end of 2019 will be lower than 2017 and 2018.”

Following a few delays, the new Istanbul airport is now up and running, with passenger operations shifting from Atatürk in the “Great Move” at the beginning of April.

For now, cargo operations are staying at the old airport. Can believes that in the future, the new airport will be one of world’s cargo mega hubs.

He says: “We are still operating from Atatürk Airport because infrastructure is not completed yet, Turkish cargo operators are planning to move to new airport at the end of 2020.”

Opening the new airport is expected to significantly boost Turkish aviation growth, which is predicted to increase 27.5% in the next three years.

Can says: “Air cargo transportation across Turkey was around 3.5 million tonnes last year. It is expected to reach 4.2 million tonnes in 2020.”

The outlook for Turkey is good, and Can believes it is a very logistics friendly country due to large infrastructure investments including the new airport; integration between sea, road and air transport; customs facilities being modernised; the number of cargo aircraft; and the young population who are being well educated at logistics schools.

As with all places there are challenges such as political instability in neighbouring Iran and Syria, and economic and political issues in Turkey. In the future, e-commerce is likely to present the greatest potential.

Can says: “One of the biggest opportunities is that e-commerce business in Turkey is around 30% of total business. This number is quite low compared to the EU and USA. We believe that e-commerce business will reach to 60-70% in next five years.”