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. 

Istanbul Airport (IST)40.7 kilometres43 minutes
Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL)19.2 kilometres24 minutes
Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW)45 kilometres44 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).

istanbul airport aviatechchannel
Istanbul Airport (Airports at Istanbul)

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/34R3,750 m (12,303 ft)Asphalt
16R/34L3,750 m (12,303 ft)Asphalt
17L/35R4,100 m (13,451 ft)Asphalt
17R/35L4,100 m (13,451 ft)Asphalt
18/363, 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.

istanbul airport terminal aviatechchannel
IST Terminal (Airports at Istanbul)

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

ELEVATION99 m (325 ft)
RUNWAY16L/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.

Sabiha Gokcen Int’l (Airports at Istanbul)

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/24R3,000 m (9,843 ft)Concrete
06R/24L3,500 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.

sabiha gokcen airport terminal aviatechchannel
Sabiha Gokcen Terminal (Airports at Istanbul)

Airlines and Destinations

Air ArabiaSharjah, Abu Dhabi
Air ManasBishkek
AnadoluJetMajor Domestic and International Routes
Azerbaijan AirlinesBaku
Buta AirwaysBaku
Corendon AirlinesNA
Fly BaghdadBaghdad
FlynasRiyadh, Jeddah
Iraqi AirwaysNA
Jordan AviationNA
Nile AirCairo
PegasusMajor Domestic and International Destinations
PobedaMoscow-Vnukovo, Kazan, Krasnodar
Royal WingsNA
Qatar AirwaysDoha
Turkish AirlinesNA

SAW Technical Information

ELEVATION312 ft (95 m) AMSL
RUNWAY06L/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.

Istanbul Ataturk (Airports at Istanbul)

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

ELEVATION163 ft (50 m) AMSL
RUNWAY05/23 (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


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Suman Karki
Suman Karki is the founder of the AviaTech Channel blog and YouTube Channel. He is a passionate aviation enthusiast and holds experience working as a Ground Operations Officer for Swissport International. He is currently serving as a Flight Data Feeder for FlightAware (a US-based company for Flight Tracking). Besides, he has worked as an aviation content editor for various aviation media.


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