The terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Tuesday is a massive setback to Turkey’s ambitions of making it an aviation hub rivalling those in the Arabian Gulf.
Turkish Airlines, which gets 60 per cent of its revenue from transit passengers, wants to turn Istanbul to a global transit hub to the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Istanbul is also building a new airport that will open in 2018. The new airport will serve more than 80 million passengers a year to begin with, with plans to eventually expand to 150 million at a later stage.
“If you were using Istanbul to connect to another flight, there are alternatives,” said Paul Hayes, a safety specialist at the London-based aviation consultancy Ascend Worldwide.
He said this could bring more passengers to other transit hubs in the region such as Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.
Tuesday’s attack on Istanbul’s main international hub, which left at least 40 people dead and another 200 people injured, is the third against commercial aviation in less than a year.
In March, the terrorist group ISIL carried out suicide attacks on Brussels Airport and the city’s metro, leaving 31 dead and 300 injured. Before that, a terrorist bomb exploded in a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has called on governments to improve safety measures following such attacks.
“This tragedy in Istanbul and the one in Brussels earlier this year show that there is a growing challenge for governments to keep people safe in the landside parts of the airport,” said Tony Tyler, the director general of Iata, an organisation that represents 260 airlines.
“Moving people airside more quickly can help to mitigate risk. The industry has a number of initiatives in place to achieve that aim and we are working with governments and airports to implement them,” he added.
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