The first flight departed Wednesday from Istanbul’s newly inaugurated airport.
The Turkish Airlines flight TK2124 with 340 people on board left the new airport, named Istanbul Airport, bound for the capital Ankara.
It is expected to be followed by flights to northern Cyprus and Baku, Azerbaijan, later this week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated the gleaming new aviation hub on Monday — the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
The airport is a mega-project that Erdogan has pushed to fulfill his dream of making Turkey a global player.
"The new airport will be the pride of our country and an example to the world," Erdogan said at the lavish opening ceremony that featured several heads of state.
"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.
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".
"Ataturk Airport will continue to serve with the same name," he added.
When finished in 2028, Istanbul Airport 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.
"With its cargo and aviation terminals, parking lots, support units, and social facilities it is a really gigantic work," said Erdogan.
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.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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