Over 50 foreign dignitaries from at least 18 countries will attend the ceremony for the soft launch of what will be one of the world's biggest and eventually busiest airports.

Artist's image of the new Istanbul airport, which has its soft opening on October 29, 2018.
Artist's image of the new Istanbul airport, which has its soft opening on October 29, 2018. (AA)

The opening ceremony of the first phase of one of the largest airports in the world will take place on Monday with a number of world leaders attending the soft launch.

The ceremony starts at 4pm local time (1300GMT) on October 29, an national holiday, Republic Day, in Turkey, this year commemorating the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to open the airport, and unveil its name to the public.

TRT World's Caitlin McGee has more.

Five-partner consortium won $29 billion tender

Over 50 foreign dignitaries from at least 18 countries including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Macedonia, Moldova, Pakistan, Serbia, Sudan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Slovenia, Georgia, Iran, Moldova's Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia and the UK will attend the ceremony.

Built by a consortium of five contractors – Limak, Kolin, Cengiz, Mapa and Kalyon, which won a $29 billion tender in 2013 – the project has been carried out through a build-operate-transfer model.

"This airport is going to be the most important hub between Asia and Europe," Kadri Samsunlu, head of the 5-company consortium, said on Thursday.

Located on the shores of the Black Sea, the airport is expected to serve 90 million passengers annually in its first phase.

At its completion scheduled by 2023, it will occupy nearly 77 square kilometres (19,000 acres) and serve up to 200 million travelers a year with six runways. That's almost double the traffic at the world's biggest airport currently, Atlanta's Hartsfield- Jackson in the United States.

It will also be home to the world’s largest duty-free shopping complex. The 53,000 square metre shopping complex will have six sections, including luxury stores and bazaar concepts. There will be parking for 70,000 cars.

Design won international architecture award

The airport’s maiden flight will be a departure to Turkey’s capital Ankara on October 31, with the first international flight to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus the following day.

Flights to the southern Turkish city of Antalya will begin on November 1, to the western city of Izmir on November 2, and the first flight to Azerbaijan's capital Baku is scheduled for November 8.

The airport's interiors nod to Turkish and Islamic designs and its tulip-shaped air traffic control tower won the 2016 International Architecture Award. It also uses mobile applications and artificial intelligence for customers, is energy efficient and boasts a high-tech security system.

By the end of this year, the airport is expected to be handing 2,000 flights a day to more than 350 destinations serviced by over 250 carriers.

Source: AA