Istanbul’s new airport has no heating on strips, minister says

A parliamentary inquiry by the opposition party has revealed that Istanbul’s massive new airport does not have heating systems in its ground strips to prevent icing, critical daily Birgun reported on Friday.

Ilhami Ozcan Aygun, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)  directed a parliamentary question to Transport and Infrastructure Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

He asked what measures had been taken to prevent accidents during take- off, landing and taxiing at Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA).

In the ministry’s response, the minister said the strips completed and put into service do not have heating systems as such systems were not previously envisaged in the tender specifications.

Turhan added that the airport had accordingly required equipment and teams to fill the gap created by a lack of heating system, referring to snow removal vehicles.

CHP’s Aygun slammed the ministry as they did not envisage such an important necessity before the construction phase, instead, were preferring primitive methods against icing.

“How they will accomplish that task in such a vast area? In harsh weather conditions when the temperature drops too much, there will be nothing to do with the snow removal vehicles. We brush up against a risky situation,” the lawmaker warned.

Aygun called on the ministry to take preventive precautions regarding the matter.

The minister Turhan had previously admitted the bad weather conditions around the IGA, notably in the mid-seasons.

The IGA, the third Istanbul airport, has been at the center of criticism since its idea stage for several reasons, including problems with the area’s soil and its environmental impact as it is located in the northern forest area which is of great importance for Istanbul’s ecological sustainability.

The $11 billion-project is a pet project of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Turkish Airlines (THY), the Turkish flag carrier described him as “the originator behind the idea of this monumental project and its biggest supporter.”

The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon Consortium, a joint venture of Turkish companies close to Erdogan, won the tender which critics say is one of Turkey’s most controversial projects in recent years.

In an effort to put the IGA into operation in a hurry, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has let significant technical deficiencies occur, according to critics.

Bahadır Altan, a first pilot, claimed that the AKP government, particularly Erdogan, shut their eyes to the deaths of workers for the sake of completion of the IGA before the inauguration ceremony on October 29, 2018, Turkey’s Republic Day.

Some resources claimed that around 400 workers have been killed at the IGA’s construction site since the beginning of the massive airport project in 2015.

The AKP government first denied the allegation, saying only 27 workers died, however later, admitting that “at least 52 workers” have died on the site. 

Last  September the IGA workers staged a work stoppage in protest against poor conditions and work-related deaths on the site with Erdogan’s AKP detaining hundreds, most of who were later released without charge. A Turkish court released the arrested 31workers pending trial in December.

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