Turkish civil aviation growth 'remarkable, PM Yıldırım says
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Friday praised Turkey's civil aviation industry for its exponential growth during the last 15 years.
Speaking at a ground laying ceremony for a new terminal building at the Canakkale airport, Yıldırım described the industry's success as "remarkable".
"Today, Turkey ranks 11th worldwide in aviation and the fifth in 28 countries in Europe," he said.
The premier said Turkish Airlines was the second-largest carrier in Europe.
"The total number of passengers passing through the country's airports increased to 174 million in 2016 from 34 million in 2003," Yıldırım said.
The passenger numbers will surpass 190 million by the end of this year, he said.
"Turkish Airlines are flying at more than 350 destinations worldwide. There is no other airline that does that."
He noted that direct flights from Turkish airports increased to 159 countries in 2017 from 60 countries in 2003.
Commenting on the construction of Istanbul's third airport, he said if Turkey is building the biggest airport in the world "it is not doing it in vain".
Turkey's geographical position has helped the country to play a strategic role in aviation industry, according to experts.
Passenger traffic in Turkey increased by 10.9 percent which is much higher than both the world average of 5.9 percent and Europe average of 5.7 percent, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.
The new airport in Istanbul, which is the only new airport planned and being constructed in Europe, will take most passenger traffic from the Ataturk International Airport.
It would host 250 airlines flying to more than 350 destinations when it is completed in 2018, making it one of the world's largest transport hubs.