Company Insight

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW)- The Story So Far

10 years since the opening of the new terminal, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) has hosted more than 200 million passengers. It’s undeniable progress led the airport to be Turkey’s 2nd busiest and Europe’s 12th busiest Airport. As it stands, it is currently the world’s busiest single terminal and single runway airport.

SAW welcomes Royal Air Maroc.

What is the story behind the impressive growth of SAW?

Wrapping up the year, SAW has added 6 new airlines (Royal Air Maroc, Kuwait Airways, Salam Air, Malaysia Airlines, Jazeera Airways, Ariana Afghan) to its family and launced 12 new routes. Particularly, SAW-KUL route of Malaysia Airlines has huge importance, becoming the first long haul route launched from SAW. This marks a return of Malaysia Airlines to Istanbul market following their last flight back in 2014. At the same time, SAW will also welcome Qatar Airways (“QR”) 1 millionth passenger in December, another milestone considering QR were the first foreign full service carrier to start operations from SAW back in 2014.

Back in 2008, SAW was serving over 4 million passengers annually (“mppa”). Fast forward today, SAW is able to serve over 35 mppa, 8 times more when compared back then in 2008 or in other words, standing over 600% of growth. SAW provides connectivity to over 150 international and domestic destinations. The fast growth in passenger volume achieved by SAW resulted with several recognitions by the industry which includes being Europe’s fastest growing airport for 7 consecutive years between 2009 and 2015.

Malaysia Airlines SAW's first long haul flight.

With further growth expected over the next 10 years, SAW is well positioned to develop Istanbul, with its unique geographical location as one of the major aviation hubs. Located 40 km away from the city centre, SAW is the only residential airport of Istanbul since its been surrounded by numbers of hot-spots, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels etc. It is also located at the center of the commerce. Only a km away, there is an innovation hub of Turkey – Teknopark where there are over 250 firms, 2,500 projects, USD 45 million worth of export. There is also an Organized Industrial zone, only 20 km away from SAW, where there are more than 200 firms, nearly half of them are international and foreign-capital. Last but not least, only 25 km away from SAW - there is also an on-going construction of the Istanbul’s new financial district expected to be completed in 2022. Once the project is  concluded, it will be the financial center of the city with most of the domestic and foreign banks’ headquarters moving in. 

Being the city airport of Istanbul, connectivity and direct accessibility to the airport is an important element. To supplement the road access and other public transportations, metro is expected to be completed on next year end, will provide passengers a service to travel to the city centre from SAW in an hour of time.

Development of the 2nd runway, new terminal are projects on going in order to serve the increased passenger volume over coming years, considering SAW also serve the catchment area of over 30 million population located within 2 hours of driving distance.

Watch the video of an Elettric80 system equipped with Flash Battery lithium batteries

SAW welcomes Jazeera Airways.

As the growth story continues, how is SAW being able to cope with all these within a short period of time?

Being in a dynamic industry, an airport constantly needs to evolve itself to serve the growing needs of the respective travellers. Today, airport serves as an important touch point for a traveller or a tourist. In view of this, it’s the vision of SAW to provide a seamless and inspiring airport experience to all of its’ customers.

This year alone, SAW role out several projects to upgrade it’s terminal facilities to cope with the rapid growth and developments, in particular screening machines, baggage handling, passport e-gates for local citizens, self bag drop, terminal way finding system, additional check in island and Aerobot project.

After completing the testing phase, the Aerobot has reported for duty recently, aiming to guide passengers travelling from SAW. Speaking more than 20 languages such English, Arabic, Russian and Spanish, Aerobot is able to provide various information of SAW, further enhancing the customer experience at the terminal.

Coupled with the smart use of technology, SAW is expected to maximize the airport infrastructure in meeting the stakeholders and customers needs. With these developments, it seems a matter of time for a dream to come true “to make SAW leader in it’s airport category as well as it becoming the preferred airport of Istanbul”.

 High-density seating makes more floor space available while providing up to 50% more seats. There’s more space for commercial traffic and far less congestion at gates.

Name, description

Contact details

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport

Sabiha Gökçen Airport Terminal Building 
Pendik 34906
Istanbul – Turkey

Tel: +90 216 588 80 00

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