Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with a population of over 15 million. It is listed as the world’s 15th largest city and also known as the most populous European city. This beautiful city features a history of more than 2500 years, mesmerizing landmarks, amazing natural views, vibrant nightlife, culture, traditions and much more.
Talking about the transportation facility, Istanbul offers highways, railways and airways conveyance. There are 3 major airports at Istanbul Turkey and 2 of them offer regular scheduled commercial flights.
So, let’s explore all the airports in Istanbul Turkey with technical information, airlines, destinations and various other important attributes.
Major Airports at Istanbul Turkey
There are 3 airports at Istanbul Turkey and they are Istanbul Airport (IST), Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL) and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW). Among these airports, IST and SAW offer regular commercial flights whereas general aviation operations are handled by ISL.
Ataturk Airport used to operate commercial passenger flights to and from Istanbul but the flights were completely transferred to the new Istanbul Airport on 6th April 2019.
|AIRPORT NAME||DISTANCE FROM ISTANBUL||ESTIMATED DRIVING TIME|
|Istanbul Airport (IST)||40.7 kilometres||43 minutes|
|Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL)||19.2 kilometres||24 minutes|
|Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW)||45 kilometres||44 minutes|
Note: The distance and driving time are taken from Google Maps including the fastest route with the usual traffic.
Now, let’s explore these airports in detail.
Istanbul Airport (IST)
Istanbul Airport (ICAO: LTFM, IATA: IST) is one of the major international airports at Istanbul situated at an elevation of 99 m (325 ft) above mean sea level (AMSL). It is owned by the General Directorate of State Airports and operated by the Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA).
IST is a primary hub for Turkish Airlines (national flag carrier of Turkey) and Turkish Cargo. This new airport in Instanbul replaced all scheduled commercial passenger flights operated by the Istanbul Ataturk Airport which happened on 6th April 2019.
IST Runway and Terminal Information
Istanbul Airport has 5 runways with the designation Rwy 16L/34R, Rwy 16R/34L, Rwy 17L/35R, Rwy 17R/35L and Rwy 18/36.
|16L/34R||3,750 m (12,303 ft)||Asphalt|
|16R/34L||3,750 m (12,303 ft)||Asphalt|
|17L/35R||4,100 m (13,451 ft)||Asphalt|
|17R/35L||4,100 m (13,451 ft)||Asphalt|
|18/36||3, 060 m (10.039 ft)||Asphalt/Concrete|
The airport infrastructure holds one passenger terminal with five concourses lettered A, B, D, G and G. There are a total of 143 passenger boarding gates available at the terminal. Both domestic and international flights are operated from the terminal.
Airlines and Destinations
Turkish Airlines is the major carrier that operates flights to more than 300 destinations from Istanbul Airport. Other airlines like Aeroflot, Air France, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines also operate international flights to and from IST.
Likewise, there are more than 20 other passenger as well as cargo airlines that operate regular scheduled commercial flights to various destinations across the globe.
IST Technical Information
|ELEVATION||99 m (325 ft)|
|RUNWAY||16L/34R (3,750 m long) – Asphalt|
16R/34L (3,750 m long) – Asphalt
17L/35R (4,100 m long) – Asphalt
17R/35L (4,100 m long) – Asphalt
18/36 (3,060 m long) – Asphalt/Concrete
Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW)
Sabiha Gokcen Int’l Airport (ICAO: LTFK, IATA: SAW) is among the major airports at Istanbul Turkey that offer scheduled commercial passenger flights to and from the largest city in Turkey. It is located in Pendik, Istanbul at an elevation of 95 m (312 ft) AMSL.
SAW is a primary hub for Pegasus Airlines and AnadoluJet. This airport was specially built to function as a reliever airport for Ataturk (ISL) due to the increasing demand for domestic and international flights.
SAW Runway and Terminal Information
Sabiha Gokcen Airport is equipped with 2 runways; Rwy 06L/24R and Rwy 06R/24L. Runway 06L24R is built with a concrete surface whereas Runway 06R/24L is currently under construction.
|06L/24R||3,000 m (9,843 ft)||Concrete|
|06R/24L||3,500 m (11,483 ft)||Concrete (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)|
The airport features a passenger terminal building that has the capacity to serve over 25 million yearly passengers. Both domestic and international flights are operated from the same terminal.
Airlines and Destinations
|Air Arabia||Sharjah, Abu Dhabi|
|AnadoluJet||Major Domestic and International Routes|
|Pegasus||Major Domestic and International Destinations|
|Pobeda||Moscow-Vnukovo, Kazan, Krasnodar|
SAW Technical Information
|ELEVATION||312 ft (95 m) AMSL|
|RUNWAY||06L/24R (3,000 m long) – Concrete Surface|
06R/24L (3,500 m long) – Under Construction
Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL)
Istanbul Ataturk (ICAO: LTBA, IATA: ISL) is also among the major airports at Istanbul however, it doesn’t facilitate commercial passenger flights after the operation of the new Istanbul Airport (IST). It is owned by the General Directorate of State Airports (DHMI) and operated by TAV Airports.
The airport is located in Yesilkoy, Istanbul at an elevation of 163 ft (50 m) AMSL. At the moment, ISL is used for general purposes such as business flights, general aviation activities, air taxis, maintenance, diplomatic flight and so on.
ISL Runway and Terminal Information
Istanbul Ataturk Airport features a single asphalt runway with the designation 05/23 and a total length of 2,580 m (8,465 ft). Talking about the terminal facility, ISL featured two passenger terminals with 34 gates (equipped with Jet Bridges) and 7 bus-boarding stands.
Airlines and Destinations
After the relocation of all commercial passenger flights to the new Istanbul Airport (IST), Ataturk doesn’t offer commercial flights due to which no airlines serve the airport today.
ISL Technical Information
|ELEVATION||163 ft (50 m) AMSL|
|RUNWAY||05/23 (2,580 m long) – Grooved Asphalt|
By the end of this blog, we explored three major airports at Istanbul Turkey which are Istanbul Airport (IST), Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) and Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL).
If you are planning to travel to Istanbul, you need to either land at IST or SAW because ISL doesn’t operate commercial passenger flights. SAW is pretty near to Istanbul than IST so, IST is the best option, however, you can use SAW airport in case of flight delays, unavailability or other circumstances at IST.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which Istanbul Airport is closer to the city?
The new Istanbul Airport (IST) is closer as it is just 40.7 kilometres away from Istanbul city.
What are the three airports in Istanbul?
Istanbul Airport (IST), Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) and Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL) are the three airports in Istanbul.
Which airport should I land in Istanbul?
You can land at Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) however, IST is the best option as it offers more flights than SAW and is also nearer to the city.
Are there two international airports in Istanbul?
Yes, there are two international airports in Istanbul and they are Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW).
Is Istanbul airport same as Ataturk Airport?
No, Istanbul Airport is the new airport to which all commercial passenger flights were transferred from Ataturk Airport on 6th April 2019. Ataturk Airport currently serves general aviation flights, business flights, maintenance and so on