Land ‘expropriations’ begin as tender for 3rd İstanbul airport nears

August 03, 2012, Friday/ 15:35:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Binali Yıldırım has said the tender for the construction of İstanbul's third airport is likely to be held before this year ends, and the government has already embarked on purchasing private land where the airport will be located.

Speaking to reporters following a fast-breaking dinner in Ankara late on Wednesday, the minister noted that it is “natural” for speculation to be rampant concerning the location of the airport given that there are people who are seeking to make a handsome profit out of these “expropriations.”

“The location of the airport is certain now. It is to the north of İstanbul on the European side by the Black Sea. If everything goes as planned, our aim is to have the tender by the end of this year and take the necessary steps for the [start of] construction,” he said, adding that 80 percent of the area on which the airport is going to be constructed is state property but that the government faces an “expropriation” cost for the remaining 20 percent.

It is constant talk in Turkey that people with knowledge of the location of such big projects make large property purchases in those regions -- which are supposed to remain a well-kept secret until the relevant tender is announced -- often from poor locals who have no idea about what is going on -- and then sell the land to the state, earning substantial amounts.

As part of his remarks, Yıldırım also noted that the already functioning İstanbul Atatürk Airport on the European side of the province will become more of a “boutique airport” when the new airport starts to operate in 2015. “Yet we want to maintain our rent revenue from İstanbul Atatürk Airport, so we will have to make sure that its operator has the necessary means and the capacity to continue paying rent,” the minister said.

Turkish Akfen Holding's TAV Airports is the operator of İstanbul Atatürk Airport, but the amount of rent it pays to the government in return for this privilege is undisclosed.

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