2018 Ops Update: Istanbul Airports

2018 Ops Update: Istanbul Airports

Istanbul is becoming an increasingly popular and busy destination for business aircraft travel. Istanbul’s two airports of entry (AOE), Ataturk (LTBA) and Sabiha (LTFJ), are the most popular destinations for international GA.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Istanbul Airports

GA operators to LTBA and LTFJ should be aware of and consider limitations and restrictions when choosing which airport to operate to in Istanbul, as both landing permits and airport slots are required, and extended parking may be difficult to obtain. Both LTBA and LTFJ are 24-hour AOEs with 24-hour Customs, Immigrations, and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities for General Aviation (GA).

2. Distance to city center

LTBA is located closer to the city center (15-miles and an approximately 30-minute drive) than LTFJ which is 22-miles and approximately one-hour to the city center.

3. Scheduled flights

LTBA offers abundant options for regular scheduled commercial flights. Regular airline schedules of major air carriers is limited at LTFJ.

4. Scheduled Parking

It can be challenging arranging parking at Istanbul airports, particularly for aircraft B737 and larger looking for extended parking (more than 24 hours).

At LTFJ, you may be limited to 24 hours, and it’s not always possible to negotiate longer time on the ground upon arrival. Note that when parking at either LTBA or LTFJ, power in/power out parking is not the norm. You will often be towed, and it’s important to confirm that a suitable tow bar is available for your particular aircraft model. Recently, we’ve received reports that parking has become more difficult to obtain at LTJF and that LTBA had more options.

For extended parking, operators should consider using Tekirdağ ÇorluAirport (LTBU), which is about a two-hour drive on the motorway from downtown Istanbul.

5. Slots

Most AOEs in Turkey mandate arrival/departure airport slots. It’s important to note that the slot application process typically takes five business days, compared to just three days for landing permits. Turkey Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) operates an online slot system but it’s a closed system so you’ll need to go through your ground handler to coordinate slots. Operators and trip support providers are not normally able to view available slots online, or request slots directly. At Istanbul’s two airports you will not get the slot times you are looking for 50% of the time and available slots may not coordinate with your schedule. Generally, arrival/departure slots will not become available until 2-3 days prior to ops. Obtaining your preferred slot has become particularly challenging recently at LTJF. This is why it’s always best practice to begin the slot request process at least five days out, so you can monitor the situation and take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.

6. Handling and facilities

GA operators to Turkey report good ground handing support and infrastructure at major AOEs. While ground support equipment (GSE) is usually more than adequate, it’s always best to confirm tow bar availability if you’re operating a less common type of GA equipment. We’ve recently received feedback from GA operators of transportation of crew and passengers from the aircraft has been chaotic with no direct route to GAT at LTFJ. Feedback has also indicated that operators consider that GAT at LTBA to be superior in quality and comfort to that GAT at LTFJ. Additionally, maintenance support for business jets is often limited at LTFJ with many more options available at LTBA.

7. CIQ clearance

GA customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) is cleared within general aviation terminals (GATs), at AOEs that have these facilities. It’s usually a quick process, under 15-20 minutes, as most information will have been forwarded in advance. At AOEs without GATs, CIQ clearance is via the main terminal, but processing is usually quick. To expedite CIQ clearance, it’s crucial to keep your handler up to date on any schedule or crew/passengers revisions so that they can update their filings with customs and immigration authorities. Also, ensure that your handler has multiple copies of your updated gen dec.


Recent reports indicate more and more operators prefer using LTBA over LTFJ when operating to Istanbul.


If you have any questions or would like assistance planning your next trip to Istanbul, contact me at keithforeman@univ-wea.com.