More air passengers touch down in 2013, as taste for Turkey keeps on growing

A hike in Turkey’s air traffic meant passenger numbers hit record levels in 2013, confirming the country’s growing popularity in the world as a place to visit and do business.

Turkey’s Minister for Transport confirmed in January that the number of air passengers passing through the country last year exceeded 150 million, representing a 14.6 year-on-year rise. Domestic air travel contributed to much of the growth, increasing 17.6 per cent compared to 2012 and hitting 76.1 million passengers.

“While the number of passengers flying on domestic lines was eight million in 2002, today the number of domestic passengers exceeds Turkey’s population, which is around 76 million,” said Minister Lütfi Elvan. “This situation shows people from every section of the country can use airlines.”

Elvan also highlighted that the number of flight passengers from overseas was just under 73.4 million in 2013, an increase of 11.8 per cent compared to 2012.

According to the Ministry’s statistics, Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport remains Turkey’s busiest airport, dealing with 17.2 million domestic and 34 million international flight passengers in 2013, representing 12 and 14 per cent year-on-year increases respectively.

In terms of domestic air traffic only, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen is the second busiest, with its 11.9 million passengers in 2013 representing a 23 per cent increase on 2012, while Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport was third with nine million passengers.

This year sees the phasing out of the old-fashioned stamp visas for travellers to Turkey. Instead, air passengers will need an e-Visa to enter the country – a scheme that is expected to speed up obtaining a visa and reduce delays at the airport.