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President Alvi attends inauguration ceremony of Istanbul Grand International Airport

Updated October 30, 2018

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Arif Alvi attend the opening ceremony of Istanbul's new international airport, in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul on October 29. — AFP
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Arif Alvi attend the opening ceremony of Istanbul's new international airport, in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul on October 29. — AFP

President Arif Alvi attended the inauguration of the Istanbul Grand International Airport on Monday while on a three-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

President Erdogan, while inaugurating the airport ─ which his government says will eventually become the largest in the world ─ amidst great fanfare, said it would be "the pride of our country and an example to the world."

Along with President Alvi, other heads of state were also in attendance at the lavish opening ceremony.

At the event, Alvi said that Pakistan and Turkey share "deep brotherly and historical-based relations".

At the inauguration — which coincided with the 95th anniversary of modern Turkey's founding by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — Erdogan revealed that the airport would be named "Istanbul".

The new airport hall is pictured during the opening ceremony of Istanbul's third airport, the Istanbul Grand Airport in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul on October 29, 2018. ─ AFP
The new airport hall is pictured during the opening ceremony of Istanbul's third airport, the Istanbul Grand Airport in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul on October 29, 2018. ─ AFP

"Istanbul is not only our biggest city but also the most valuable trademark of our country," he said.

The airport, one of a number of mega-projects built under Erdogan's rule, will be little used until next year after construction was marred by delays and a workers' strike over poor conditions.

Erdogan has championed the $12 billion project in his bid to make Istanbul a global travel hub linking Europe, Asia and Africa and turn flag carrier Turkish Airlines into an aviation giant.

But the airport will only offer flights to five destinations until an expanded opening on December 29, from when it is expected to handle up to 90 million passengers a year, rising to up to 200 million when all facilities are completed in 2028.

The first flight from the new facility will be to the capital Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan doing a symbolic check-in and taking their tickets on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan doing a symbolic check-in and taking their tickets on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front R) his wife Emine Erdogan (front L) and other officials driving in a vehicle on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front R) his wife Emine Erdogan (front L) and other officials driving in a vehicle on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP

People attend the opening ceremony of Istanbul's new international airport in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul. ─ AFP
People attend the opening ceremony of Istanbul's new international airport in the Arnavutkoy district on the European side of Istanbul. ─ AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan centre, along with other officials, inaugurates the new airport in Istanbul. ─ AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan centre, along with other officials, inaugurates the new airport in Istanbul. ─ AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan attend an inauguration ceremony on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan attend an inauguration ceremony on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and Turkish officials pray as he inaugurates the gleaming new aviation hub in Istanbul. ─ AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and Turkish officials pray as he inaugurates the gleaming new aviation hub in Istanbul. ─ AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan posing with world leaders and guests at the terminal building on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan posing with world leaders and guests at the terminal building on the opening day of the Istanbul Grand Airport. ─ AFP