Istanbul Ataturk Airport – 2023 Business Aviation Destination Guide
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Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, is a rapidly growing business aviation market with good infrastructure and potential for growth. Istanbul has three airports of entry (AOE), Istanbul Airport (LTFM), Ataturk Airport (LTBA), and Sabiha Gokcen (LTFJ). Choosing the right airport is vital for a successful mission in Istanbul. Traditionally, business aviation operators chose between Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen, which each had its own advantages. However, recent changes in the last few years have made Ataturk (LTBA) the preferred option for business aviation. If you are planning a trip to Ataturk, the following is an overview of what you need to know.
Ataturk Airport (LTBA)
Ataturk Airport is located near the city center of Istanbul and is the city’s only airport dedicated exclusively to private jets. In 2019, the new Istanbul Airport (LTFM) opened. As a result, all commercial airline traffic is now diverted from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport. This has made Ataturk Airport the hands-down best option for bizav ops. With no commercial traffic, arrivals, departures, and taxi times are significantly faster. Ataturk Airport is also much more conveniently located to Istanbul’s city center and provides greater operational flexibility in parking, slots, scheduled maintenance options, and customer preference to the airport’s general aviation terminal.
Ataturk distance from city center
Ataturk Airport is located (15-miles and an approximately 30-minute drive) to the city center of Istanbul and has been dedicated to private jets only through the general aviation terminal.
Ataturk operating hours
Ataturk Airport is a 24-hour Airport of Entry with 24-hour Customs, Immigrations, and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities for General Aviation (GA). Cargo operations are moved to LTFM. Ataturk has a 8,465-feet runway.
Parking shortages are rare at Ataturk Airport. Parking duration begins two hours after arrival and ends when the engine start permission is given. Parking charges are applied in 24-hour increments. Fees will apply regardless of whether the aircraft is parked inside or outside the hangar building. 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 essential to confirm that a suitable tow bar is available for your particular aircraft model.
Slots & PPR
Slots are required 24/7 and must be requested 48 hours before arrival. Slots cannot be changed once an aircraft departs from its origin airport. Confirmed slots are valid +/-20 minutes on arrival and +/-20 minutes on departure. PPR is not required.
Ground Handling, FBOs & Equipment
GA operators at Istanbul report good ground handling support and infrastructure. 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. Additionally, it is essential to confirm that a suitable tow bar is available for your particular aircraft model. There is no FBO at Ataturk. All business aviation passengers share a common General Aviation Terminal. Flights with 21 or more passengers require a special permit. Operators consider that GAT at LTBA is comfortable, and crew and passengers can go through the security and immigration process within 5-10 minutes. Additionally, maintenance support for business jets have many available options at LTBA. Hangar space is available.
Regarding hotel recommendations, there are many options in Istanbul with 4-5 star hotels, including major international chains and luxury places to choose from. There are ample options for hotel accommodations near LTBA due to its proximity to Istanbul.
Fuel availability is good. While customer credit cards, fuel cards, and cash are accepted, the best practice is to carry a fuel release. Having a fuel release helps to avoid the day of operation issues. Istanbul airports (LTFM, LTBA, LTFJ) have no AVGAS availability. However, Corlu Airport (LTBU) has AVGAS, an alternate that 1hr 30 min drive to Istanbul city center.
Catering options and cuisine possibilities are generally good at Ataturk Airport. In-flight caterers are on-site at larger locations, and crew can bring catering orders from local hotels or restaurants with them. Advance notification of catering requests should be made 24 hours prior, with longer lead times for complex requests or specially sourced items. It’s possible in Turkey to retain catering during tech stops and to store sealed onboard catering at GATs during destination stops. However, it’s recommended that arrangements for such catering storage are made in advance. Due to the pandemic, cold storage is not available at any airport in Turkey. You can check the free Air Culinaire Worldwide Menu app to see catering options and menus available.
Pre-paid ground transport (with driver) is recommended when visiting Istanbul. Universal Aviation Turkey can offer the best transportation solutions. You can also use regular taxi services at all airports of Istanbul, where the fee from LTBA to the city center is around USD 25. You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs. Helicopter transfers can also be arranged.
Private security can be arranged for the operators traveling to Ataturk for the duration of their stay. In addition, aircraft guards can be arranged for airside security purposes, but this must be organized and approved before the day of operation.
Due to LTBA airport policy, please be informed that passengers should be escorted by customs and police officers until they are on board. GA customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) are cleared within the general aviation terminal. It’s usually a quick process, under 15-20 minutes, as most information will have been forwarded in advance.
Technical and fuel stop, crew swap and night stop are available at LTBA airport.
Recent reports indicate that more operators prefer using Ataturk Airport (LTBA), in favor of Sabiha Gokcen (LTFJ). when operating to Istanbul. With the recent closure of commercial airline traffic at LTBA and ongoing runway construction at LTFJ, we anticipate even more operators choosing it over LTFJ moving forward, as there will be no slot issues, less taxi time, better services, and overall less congestion while being closer to the city center. Universal Aviation’s Turkey’s Istanbul team is available 24/7 to assist. For more information on this location, including a 360 view of the FBO, visit Universal Aviation Turkey online.