Erdogan opens new Istanbul Airport, planned to be world’s largest

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan center, along with other officials inaugurates the new airport in Istanbul. (AP)
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign dignitaries attend an inauguration ceremony for a new aviation hub in Istanbu. (AP)
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan drives a car as he inaugurates a new aviation hub in Istanbul. (AP)
Updated 30 October 2018

Erdogan opens new Istanbul Airport, planned to be world’s largest

  • Erdogan opened a new $11.7 bn airport outside Istanbul
  • The airport will be able to handle 90 mn passengers a year and can be expanded to accommodate as many as 200 mn

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday opened Istanbul’s new international airport, which his government says will eventually become the world’s largest.
“The new airport will be the pride of our country and an example to the world,” Erdogan said at a lavish opening ceremony featuring several heads of state.
At the inauguration — which coincided with the 95th anniversary of modern Turkey’s founding by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — Erdogan also revealed that the airport would be named “Istanbul.”
“Istanbul is not only our biggest city but also the most valuable trademark of our country,” he said.
The airport, one of a number of mega-projects built under Erdogan’s rule, will be little used until next year after construction was marred by delays and a workers’ strike over poor conditions.
Erdogan has championed the 10.5-billion euro ($12-billion) project in his bid to make Istanbul a global travel hub linking Europe, Asia and Africa and turn flag carrier Turkish Airlines into an aviation giant.
But the airport will only offer flights to five destinations until an expanded opening on December 29, from when it is expected to handle up to 90 million passengers a year, rising to up to 200 million when all facilities are completed in 2028.
That would be nearly double the 103.9 million passengers moving through the world’s current busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in the US city of Atlanta.
The opening ceremony was attended by several leaders including Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes.
The first flight from the new facility will be to the capital Ankara on Wednesday.
It had been thought the new facility would replace the city’s aging Ataturk Airport, but Erdogan said it would remain in service, including for events such as air shows, adding that its unused parts would be transformed into a “national park as promised.”
Planes and equipment are expected to be moved from Ataturk to the new facility for the expanded launch in late December.
“Ataturk Airport will continue to serve with the same name,” he added.
Erdogan called the new airport a “giant,” with officials saying that its 1.4 million-square meter terminal building was eight times larger than Ankara’s terminal.
“Moreover, 80 Eiffel Towers could be constructed with the steel of 640,000 tons used in the construction.”
When finished in 2028, it will have six runways and two terminals spread over 76 square kilometers (29 square miles). That would make it three times the size of Ataturk.
Authorities say a metro line will be built to link the airport, which is near the Black Sea coast on the European side of Istanbul, to the city center 35 kilometers (22 miles) away.
The airport will be one of the crowning jewels in Erdogan’s bid to transform Turkey’s infrastructure in time for the country’s centenary in 2023.
Other massive projects include a third bridge over the Bosphorus Strait connecting Istanbul’s Europe and Asia sides, opened in 2016, and a man-made canal to relieve pressure on the strait.
However critics have blasted Erdogan’s mega-projects as excessive and damaging to the environment, and the airport’s construction was hit by controversy.
Last month, hundreds of workers walked off the job to protest poor conditions and work-related deaths on the site.
Turkish authorities quickly cracked down, arresting hundreds, according to labor unions. Most were released without charge, but around 20 remain in prison.
Thirty workers have died on the site since construction began in 2015, according to Istanbul airport authorities. The unions say the real number is much higher.
Construction Union Insaat-Is announced on Twitter that another worker died from a fall on Sunday, just one day before the inauguration.
In his speech, Erdogan thanked the workers.


Egypt abolishing jail terms for businessmen

The Egyptian parliament to abolish laws that imprison investors. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2020

Egypt abolishing jail terms for businessmen

  • “Harming public money or the health of citizens entails serving sentences. Any economic or administrative violations are punishable”

CAIRO: The Egyptian parliament has announced that laws that imprison investors have been scratched, stressing that imposing jail time on financial wrongdoers affects investment in Egypt.
Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said in a public parliamentary session that he and parliament will not allow investment to “escape” from Egypt, “so the idea of replacing imprisonment with deterrent fines must be preserved.”
“I will never allow the imprisonment of businessmen involved in financial violations,” Abdel-Aal said.
Egypt’s parliament takes its cue from countries which have abolished penalties to safeguard the freedom of investors in economic legislation, in support and encouragement of investment, said Economic Affairs Committee Chairman in Parliament Ahmed Samir. Samir said the principle of not imprisoning investors in financial crimes was approved by parliament at the beginning of the current legislative term but is not final.
He explained that investors do not enjoy absolute immunity against imprisonment and that there are crimes in which jail is necessary, including harming public money or the interest of the state or harming the health of citizens.
“Harming public money or the health of citizens entails serving sentences. Any economic or administrative violations are punishable,” Samir told Arab News.
Mohsen Adel, former head of the Investment Authority, stressed that Egypt has taken the view of international institutions which is believed may encourage investment incentives to attract direct foreign investment, and that preventing businessmen from going to jail guarantees the protection of the investor who works in good faith and is similar to international standards.

SPEEDREAD

Egypt’s parliament takes its cue from countries which have abolished penalties to safeguard the freedom of investors in economic legislation with the aim to support and encourage investment.

Ahmed El-Zayat, a member of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, said the abolition by parliament of imprisoning businessmen in economic legislation is aimed at encouraging investors to invest more and to provide all logistical support to help deal with global competition and attract foreign investment.
El-Zayat pointed to efforts such as solving the problems of troubled factories, refinancing, operating, reconciling with investors and providing a safe business environment that provides the factors needed to increase investments.
El-Zayat said doing away with incarceration of investors and replacing that with financial fines and providing new mechanisms to tighten control over economic business to prevent any excesses and achieve economic justice will raise the confidence of businessmen in the Egyptian economy, especially in industry. He said this will realize the state’s vision of increasing Egyptian exports $55 billion over the coming years.
Mohamed Waheed, chairman of Catalyst Company and founder of the first electronic market for trade in Egyptian products, said the state’s new initiative is a “legislative boom” which will add to the advantages and incentives guaranteed by the investment law, making Egypt the most prominent destination for investors as it enhances its competitiveness and increases demand for work and investment.

Waheed emphasized that the new investment law and its amendments, in addition to investment incentives and positive benefits for projects, organizes the file of penalties for the economic sector within the framework of a general approach from the state to develop the investment environment in a way that enhances its competitiveness and elements of its attraction to local and foreign investments.
He said this vision is a message from the state that supports serious investment and protects well-intentioned investors from the risks and fluctuations of local and global markets.
Al-Waheed added that this will guarantee the seriousness of work and strengthen the values of governance, transparency and serious competition on the basis of common interests and hard work to reap the fruits of development without measures that limit market capabilities and hinder opportunities for expansion and prosperity.