Perfecting the details
Istanbul’s new airport was officially inaugurated just over a year ago, on 29 October 2018, to be precise. On 6 April then it replaced ‘old’ Atatürk airport. Both are far from completed, however. A look at further developments.
Allow me to remind you – ‘old’ Atatürk airport (with the new Iata code ISL) still operates alongside the ‘new’ Atatürk hub (IST). (See also page 33 of ITJ 45-46 / 2018). Almost all passenger services, including those operated by Turkish Airlines, use the huge new airport, which opened for business in spring. But Turkish Cargo’s freighters – there are more and more of them, with a sixth Boeing B777F added most recently – still fly from the old gateway.
The co-loaded volume of cargo carried on passenger aircraft resulted in the cargo volumes of the two airports coming in almost the same for the five months from April to August 2019. According to ACI Europe, ISL handled approximately 270,544 t of freight, whilst IST managed around 242,222 t. The new airport surpassed the old one for the first time in August (56,324 vs 53,513 t).
A freight terminal in the new hub
Cargo activities at the new location are prepared by Turkish Cargo, in collaboration with Lödige Industries, a German service provider that has already equipped around 40 airfreight terminals worldwide with new logistics systems. Once the new, fully-automated facility with state-of-the-art technology is complete in 2020 / 2021, the airline will have total handling capacities amounting to around 2 million t of freight a year available.
It remains to be seen how long it will take until this capacity limit is reached – despite the uncertain global economy. 1.237 million t of freight was already handled at Atatürk airport in 2018 (a rise of 9.6% compared to 2017), with Turkish Cargo handling 1.4 million t (+25%), all in all.
Ready for growth
For the time being Turhan Özen, the airline’s chief cargo officer, is satisfied though. “Our new terminal positions us very well for future growth.” His confidence is also based on the technology that has been installed there.
The freight terminal’s facilities include several auto- mated high-bay warehouses with 2,000 slots for airfreight containers, 17,000 pallet slots, 52 storage and retrieval machines, 26 container and pal- let lifts as well as an integrated inventory management system (which is called Lödige cargo professional) with a direct inter- face to the customer as well as the freight management system.
The plant is served by a local Lödige Industries maintenance team and is also connected to the corporation’s customer care centre in Germany, which will help with rectifying system errors, day and night, without delay. Lödige CEO Philippe De Backer is proud “that we’re involved in this lighthouse project. The order Turkish Cargo placed with us for its new hub proves that our engineering and automation know-how and our years of experience in the field of airfreight terminals are in demand.”
Showcase for new technologies
The new airport also represents a perfect opportunity for other logistics service providers to demonstrate their expertise. Getac for example, a joint venture between the Mitac Synnex Business Group and GE Aerospace, has implemented a solution that enables rapid and accurate refuelling of up to 700 aircraft a day.
Getac’s F110 tablet enables the airport operator IGA’s fleet of no less than 60 tankers to connect to the central control system from anywhere on the apron, and initiate an automated refuel- ling process.
In principle, each aircraft is ready to take off again for its next flight just 45 minutes after it has been emptied from its previous leg, a very short turnaround time indeed, which helps the airport operator to adhere to a tight flight schedule. The facility is obviously ready for Turkish Airlines’ freighters.