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Coming at a time when the economic and political relations beween the two countries improve, the inauguration of Istanbul Airport, the world's biggest, is extensively covered in the Germany media.
"The recently inaugurated Istanbul International Airport as an international airway trasportation hub will be surpassing the Frankfurt International Airport in a few years time" say Germany's media reporters and analysts who further point to the fact that the mega project for the Berlin Airport is still lagging since 14 years of the beginning of its constructon.
Media coverages in Germany regarding the new Istanbul Airport also cite criticisms by the trade unions and ecologists of Turkey vis-a-vis the offical reactions to the charges particularly on the figures of worksite casualties as given by the unions (apx. 400) in conrast to those by the officials (30).
In a news analysis titled "Erdoğan's mega airport", Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) comments that "Turkey's president is after erecting a monument in the shape of a new airport. But this may turn a burden for Germany. There is his 'Monument of Victory'. With that symbol, Turkey is expecting to join among the world's elites."
The airport's dome and its other architectural characteristics and the mosque inside the gates reflect an oriental atmosphere the analysis reads and says that with its tulip shaped control tower resembles the "rising years of the Ottoman Empire."
FAS piece also lists some of the biggest German companies who have cooperated in the construction of the airport and who will be making business following its full operation: Siemens (electronic substructure), Liebherr (cranes for the construction) Thyssen-Krupp'ın (passenger bridges) DHL (a cargo center) and Heinemann (a 'duty free' shop)
FAS analysis follows to criticize "but not eveything in Istanbul is smoothly progressing". Only five planes will depart from the airport following the inauguration as the "real start" is postponed for late December it says.
Questioning the official justification that behind the delay is the Turkish Airlines' precautions, FAS relates "the delays with the lagging of the construction program. "Recently the construction workers had revolted for the poor working and sheltering conditions. The police violently craked down on the revolt, and reprisals followed. In work accidents officially 30 workers have lost thier lives during the constructiıon but the union claims that the figure is 400. Erdoğan's project of prestige is marred by the workers protests and ecological failures in addition to construction risks due to time pressure and the construction of the passenger terminal on a loose ground," the analysis comments.
"But all these would not alter the fact that the Frankfurt Airport and Lufthansa Airlines who uses Germany's biggest airport as its turnpike are faced with a new situation. They should be concerned that Turkish Airlines and its new transportation hub in Istanbul may leave the ones in Germany behind. Presently Frankfurt takes over Istanbul with a slightly bigger number of passengers. But since many years the Turkish Airlines and its central airport are growing at a greater pace than that of their competitors in Germany. Since 2007, they have tripled the number of their passengers while the increase in the figures of Germany remains at 20 percent. Turkey singled out transportation and logistics as strategecially core sectors, enlarged and upgraded its aircraft fleet. And started to gain German passangers with ticket prices much lower than that of Lufthansa's.
Frankfurt passengers to Istanbul
The FAS analysis further underlines that the new Istanbul Airport is located at a more advantageous transfer point for long distance passangers and those who would like to fly from North Germany to Asia, Africa and Middle East countries could possibly prefer Istanbul. Under the new circumstances the presently major transfer ports of Frankfurt and Dubai would suffer a huge loss.
The European airports may not be able to compete with the new Istanbul Airport should the Turkish Airlines preserve its present growth rate, the analysis observes. Pointing to the fact that Frankfurt, Münich and other greater airports cannot be further enlarged due to the scarcity of appropriate urban landstock and to the prevailing permissible noise level standards, it underlines that "Istanbul however, has plenty land stock and extension plans are already prepared and shelved."
Berlin's mega airport
Almost all media covering in Germany regarding the issue mentions BER (Berlin Brandenbur or Willy Brnadt Airpport) and its delayed inauguration still after 14 years due to insufficiency in its alarm systems and for various other reasons. "Berliners should envy Istanbul for having completed the construction of a four times larger airport in 3,5 years," the analysts say.
Nevertheless some reports point between lines to other reasons for Istanbul's relative speed. A specialist is quoted to say: "Berlin and Istanbul are uncomparable. There the construction proceeds under whips."
The BER was started in 2006 after Berlin resumed its status of the capital city of Germany following the reunifacation of East and West Berlin, which necessitated a mega international airport. At the time of its planning, the BER was targeted to become the biggest in Europe with an annual passanger capacity of 58 million and it was expected to finalize in 2012.
Due to thechinical shortcomings and failures in planning its inauguration was over and over delayed and finally an opening date is fixed and annouced as Oct. 2020. But, not as "the biggest airport in Europe". (GK/HK/EK)
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