New Istanbul airport will be fully open March 3: Milliyet newspaper

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Istanbul’s new airport will be fully operational on March 3, Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper reported on Thursday, after the $12 billion project was twice hit by delays.

The airport, which officials say will be one of the world’s busiest, was declared open in October by President Tayyip Erdogan but only a handful of flights have been operating from the new site since then.

Its full operation was first delayed to January, in a setback for the government which has hailed it as a centerpiece of the construction boom that has driven strong economic growth under Erdogan’s 15-year rule.

Citing a letter sent by airport authorities, Milliyet said the date had been pushed back again until early March.

The airport will be able to handle 90 million passengers a year, and can be expanded to accommodate as many as 200 million, Erdogan said at the opening ceremony.

Videos posted on social media since then have shown rain leaking heavily into a waterlogged passenger terminal, and a flooded car park at the new airport.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Alison Williams