Following the opening of the first phase of Istanbul Airport, the world’s biggest airport to be constructed from the ground up and housed under one roof, all eyes were turned to Turkish Airlines which started to operate its first flights from this airport. The global carrier planned flights to five cities from its new home, and the first flight was bound for Ankara. On the day of the flight, October 31, 2018, a ceremony was held with the attendance of the Republic of Turkey Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Cahit Turhan, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee M. İlker Aycı, and Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman and CEO Bilal Ekşi.
Official guests and passengers visited the check-in counters to receive their tickets. Some passengers received their boarding passes personally from the Republic of Turkey Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Cahit Turhan, and all passengers boarded the flight to Ankara.
While a Boeing 777 with the flight number TK 2124 had the honor of operating the first scheduled flight from Istanbul Airport, the passengers on this flight were excited to be the first ones to bid farewell to the city from Istanbul Airport. Undoubtedly, the firsts are always important, and witnessing a first is always a great source of happiness for those with an open mind. With this motivation at heart, many people were at the new airport that day to be passengers on the first scheduled flight from Istanbul Airport to Ankara; in other words, to witness history. Moreover, there were many others who purchased a ticket as a surprise to their spouses, or to celebrate their birthday with a different theme in a different place. Tino Oelker, a resident in Germany, visited Istanbul just to board this flight and had Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee M. İlker Aycı sign the notebook where he records all his flights.
"This is a Flight of Victory"
Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee M. İlker Aycı talked to some of the passengers on the flight and celebrated the opening of Istanbul Airport by saying, “From now on, it's our responsibility as our country’s flag carrier. This airport will further reveal Turkey’s potential, making our country the hub of world aviation. What’s more important than being the world’s biggest is to share with the world the heritage of a country known for its tolerance, solidarity, and hospitality. Our brand will continue to grow. This is a flight of victory. We will fly from our victory monument to our city of victory. I hope it brings good fortune to us all.”
The Republic of Turkey Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Cahit Turhan bid farewell to the passengers, who were on the flight to Ankara and witnessed this historical moment. He gave the green light for takeoff from the Air Traffic Control Tower at Istanbul Airport by saying, “I wish you all a pleasant flight. I congratulate you all. You are all very lucky as the passengers of this flight which will be recorded in the world history of civil aviation in gold letters. I hope you travel in good health and safety.”
To celebrate the first flight, TK 2124 toured above the city of Ankara and was met with a water arch at Ankara Esenboğa Airport. This historic day ended with cocktails at Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at Esenboğa Airport.
The excitement at Istanbul Airport was doubled with the interest and joy emanating from Turkish Airlines passengers who witnessed a historic moment by boarding the first flight.
A Birthday Present
Press members conducted an interview about the first flight with Resul Uzun, a passenger traveling with his family to Ankara, who was working as a construction technician in Istanbul. Uzun said he wanted to partake in the excitement of the first flight with his wife Dila and one-year-old daughter Nil. He stated, "October 10 was my wife's birthday. I bought this ticket for her as a present. So far it's been a great journey." Resul Uzun and his family flew to Ankara for this experience. Since his wife was from Gaziantep, they said they had flown countless times and their daughter was accustomed to being in the air.
Unable to contain his excitement, Emin Ensar Genç, one of Turkish Airlines' passengers, said he was the first Turkish passenger to do check-in at Istanbul Airport and added, "I'm the first Turkish passenger and am very happy about it. I'm so lucky to experience this moment." Having said that he would be flying to and from Ankara on the same plane, Genç also states, "It's a brand new experience. I've come to Istanbul Airport with curiosity and excitement. I've been mesmerized by its architecture and facilities. Our country now has a wonderful airport. It's a brilliant work of architecture and technology. May Allah watch over it. Our children will better understand its value. I will keep this ticket forever."