Istanbul’s new mega airport — a pet project of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — has plunged into dire straits only a year after it became operational as the aviation industry reels from the COVID-19 crisis.

With air travel largely suspended across the world as part of measures to contain the pandemic, Turkey’s aviation sector — a rising star of the Turkish economy in the past two decades — has all but plummeted. Not only airline companies but also airport operators — many of them public-private partnerships — are bracing for huge losses.

Standing out among them is the Istanbul Airport, which became operational in April 2019 and was already under financial strain. The posh hub — mired in controversy over its economic viability and environmental impact since its inception — has seen its ambitious targets blown to smithereens by the pandemic. How its operator will keep afloat is a big question mark.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez