Turkish cargo carrier MNG Airlines is about to diversify its network. Whereas up to now all flights are operated to and from the company’s central hub Istanbul Ataturk and nearby Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), located on the Asian side of the Bosporus, soon one of the company’s A300-600 freighters will take off from Bursa, an industrial hot spot located 170 kilometers southeast of Istanbul.
An application to commence Bursa operations has been submitted to the national regulator, confirmed managing director Ali Sedat Oezkazanc of MNG Airlines to CargoForwarder Global in an interview
at his airline’s Istanbul HQ last week. “Hence, we are very positive to launch our first flight there with the beginning of the new winter schedule,” announces the airline chief. Serving Bursa
directly instead of trucking cargo from the hinterlands to Istanbul Ataturk as done so far makes much sense, he says, because the triangle formed by the cities of Bursa, Eskisehir and Balikesir
has developed into a highly industrialized area, with producers of automotive parts topping the list. A technology park and an industrial zone set up in Bursa support the economic upswing that
took place in the area during recent years.
The MNG management considers the intended Bursa flights as test run for further operations. “We are very excited to see how the local market will react to our capacity offer,” states Mr Oezkazanc.
Move to IGA lies ahead
Further to this, the airline confirms that part of their freighter operations will be transited from Ataturk to the new airport at the Black Sea as of 29th October, when “Istanbul Grand Airport” (IGA), as the yet officially still unnamed location is commonly called, will see its first flight. “Currently, we are building there a large warehouse for imports, exports and transit shipments,” explains head of commercial Hasan Tasus. This would end the separation of the carrier’s segregated handling activities that are spread over three different sites near Ataturk Airport, each of them responsible for their individual business activities.
Manager Tasus uses the plural when speaking about the new mega airport and MNG’s role because his airline is part of the large MNG Group that is engaged in numerous businesses such as construction works, hotel management, the development of waste and potable water treatment plants, irrigation systems or in tourism; to name just a few of the many activities. From day one, the group has been a member of the IGA construction consortium.
Fate of Ataturk Airport still undecided
Although pending a final confirmation, MNG will transfer most of their flights from Ataturk to the new IGA as of October 29. From that day on Ataturk will be closed for passenger traffic, with only a very limited number of cargo flights getting operational permission by the authorities as well as executive and VIP flights. “We hope to be allowed to keep some of our operations there but this is an open question at this point in time,” holds an MNG manager.
As to the future fate of Ataturk, some say the airport will be downscaled leaving a single runway in operation, others speak of a total closure and the reclassification of the ground as a housing area while others expect politicians to favor the project of a public park.
A lot of speculation, while only one thing seems to be sure: no decision on the future fate of Ataturk will be taken prior to the national elections on June 24th.