Shuttered Istanbul airport should be convention centre, businessman says

A Turkish businessman proposed turning the mothballed Atatürk airport in Istanbul into a convention and conference centre resembling those in Germany.

A plan for the airport, which was closed at the start of the year to make way for the new Istanbul Airport to the east of the city, could be enacted by the start of next year, said businessman Cem Kınay, a former partner in Magic Life resorts.

The project would attract 5 million more visitors to Istanbul annually, on top of the current 12 million, and create income of $5 billion, Kınay told Hürriyet newspaper columnist Vahap Munyar.

The former airport’s main terminal building and environs could double up as an exhibition centre for Ottoman artefacts which remain in storage at the Topkapı museum, Kınay said.

Turkey's government has pledged to turn the airport into a park for Istanbul's 15 million residents. The city has expanded exponentially in recent decades, but the provision of green spaces has not kept up.