Europe’s busiest Istanbul airport welcomed its first flight in 24 hours yesterday, and Greece declared a holiday as its eastern Mediterranean neighbors began digging out of a rare storm that stopped the capital.
Turkish authorities ordered all private cars from the snow-covered streets of Istanbul while Greek troops joined rescue teams to evacuate hundreds of drivers stuck in Athens.
Major highways have been closed in both countries, and basic services such as food delivery have been closed. However, much of the international attention has focused on the fate of Istanbul’s major airports. This is a shimmering glass and steel structure that provides connecting flights across many parts of the world.
The snowstorm on Monday closed Istanbul Airport for the first time since it was taken over from the old Ataturk International Airport as a new hub for Turkish Airlines in 2019.
Tweeted yesterday’s image of the first flight since landing from Venezuela’s capital Caracas on Monday afternoon after one of the runways was cleared to accept several flights.
However, only one of the three runways remained open, and only a handful of hundreds of delayed flights were scheduled to take off or land yesterday.
Despite the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Istanbul Airport served more than 37 million passengers last year. It was the first to win the title of Europe’s busiest airport in 2020, thanks to Turkey’s decision to allow travelers the freedom to enter the country to increase tourism revenue.
Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport received nearly 31 million passengers, second last year.
Pre-pandemic European capitals such as London and Paris have seen passenger numbers decline as airlines around the world reorganize their flight patterns to suit new realities.
Still, critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have long questioned his decision to locate the airport in remote areas along the Black Sea coast, which is often foggy in winter.
The situation in Greece seemed chaotic. Authorities said 3,500 trapped drivers had to be rescued from their cars on the highways surrounding Athens.
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/708665/Istanbul-permits-first-flights-after-snow-pummels- Istanbul allows first flight after snow in the Mediterranean