The airport in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya saw the highest increase in the number of passengers last year among European airports, serving more than 25 million passengers.
"According to the Antalya Airport Number of Passengers Development Airports Council International [ACI] Traffic report, Antalya saw the highest increase in the number of passengers with a 21.1 percent rise in 2018. Group 1 is the category of airports serving more than 25 million passengers," said Fraport TAV Antalya Airport Operations and Security Director Ilgaz Arnaz.
Antalya Airport is being operated by the Fraport-TAV consortium.
Arnaz's remarks came during the 4th meeting of the Antalya Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (ANSİAD), attended by ANSİAD Chairman Akan Akıncı, Fraport TAV Antalya Airport General Manager Deniz Varol, Fraport TAV Antalya Airport General Manager Bilgihan Yılmaz, Fraport and other businesspeople and where the passenger traffic of the Antalya Airport was discussed.
In his address, Arnaz said all of the European airports on the list experienced 12 months of passenger traffic, adding that Antalya ranked 14th with a figure of 31.7 million. "Around 85 percent of this traffic was recorded in only six months, and if we had 12 months of traffic, we could rank first," he continued.
He noted that Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) traffic is expected to grow further with the addition of new routes such as Gatwick, Stuttgart, Arlanda, Tel Aviv, Vnukovo, Algiers, St. Petersburg, Amman, Berlin, Kuwait, Jeddah and Ercan in 2019.
Arnaz said they expect the total number of arriving passengers at Antalya Airport to be between 17 million and 18.1 million in 2019 according to pre-bookings and expectations in the summer season.
The country's shining star in tourism with surging foreign arrivals has seen over 3.87 million tourists arriving in the city so far this year, an increase of 18 percent year-on-year. It hosted 12.4 million foreign visitors in 2018, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
"The number of passengers arriving between Jan. 1 and June 11 increased from around 5.1 million to 5.37 million with an increase of 5 percent. We will close this year with a growth of over 6 percent," he said, highlighting that in terms of the distribution of passengers over the years, there was 85 percent airplane traffic from May 1 to October.
Pointing to the 15 percent traffic in the remaining months, Arnaz recalled that last year they launched a support program, adding that spreading tourism out over 12 months is of great importance for all Antalya stakeholders as well. "In the winters of 2016, 2017 and 2018, we reached some 711,000 passengers. We have also issued premium support to destinations that have not been flown to before and have a distance of 2,500 miles," he continued. "Tourists come to Antalya from distances like 1,000 to 2,200 miles. We aimed to increase this slightly and bring in passengers from different places."
Touching on India as a priority market, Arnaz said they met with 130 different Indian agencies in six different cities, adding that they have raised the number of passengers in the winter season to 1.1 million.
He said Antalya's air traffic was recorded at 4.9 million in 1999 and 31.6 million in 2018, stressing the annual average growth was 10.4 percent. "While there was a high season in 2014-2015, we can see the negative impact of the jet-downing crisis with Russia created in 2016; however, there was also serious recovery in 2017. In the past 20 years, the most critical passenger decline was experienced in 2016," Arnaz said. He further stressed that Russian passengers took the lead in the development of the number of passengers, followed by the Germans.
Assessing the capacity works at Antalya Airport, Arnaz said to reduce passenger waiting and transit times, they expanded the gate, passport control and security area with the platform built prior to the season and rearranged the passport and X-ray layout with passport counters in front.
He noted that mobile applications were also redesigned. "With Antalya Airport Mobile, we have introduced in-house navigation services, a first in Turkey. With the ‘Smart Steps' application for our passengers with limited mobility, we became the first airport in the world to offer a separate and special mobile application for the visually and hearing impaired."