Türkiye’s international routes have expanded from 60 destinations in 50 countries to 346 destinations in 131 countries over the decades, the country’s transport and infrastructure minister said Wednesday, highlighting its standing at the crossroads between the continents and steady increase in number of airports.

Speaking at Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s 34th annual congress in Istanbul, Abdulkadir Uraloğlu said that for centuries, Türkiye has been a geographical and cultural crossroads of continents and civilizations.

Türkiye is a bridge between Asia and Europe, and is located at the hub of north-south corridors between Russia and Africa, he noted, adding that the country is also at an important point along the historical Silk Road.

From Türkiye, passengers can reach 1.4 billion people in 67 countries within just a four-hour flight, he underlined.

“Today, thanks to air travel, we see that the global mobility of capital, know-how and trained manpower has accelerated more than at any other time in history,” he stressed.

“Today’s societies know that time is a scarce, precious resource that cannot be reversed, stored or stopped, and the development of the air transport sector has made this concept of speed part of people’s lives,” he said.

He said Türkiye has radically revamped its aviation sector since 2002, first by more than doubling its number of airports from 26 to 57.

“The country has worked to reach every country in the world and now boasts the world’s largest flight network,” he said.

“Its number of air passengers reached 214 million in 2023, jumping from 34.5 million in 2002,” he said.

“Last year, about one plane passed over the country’s skies every 15 seconds,” Uraloğlu said, adding that this year, the country expects many more flights.

He also said Istanbul Airport is one of the most crowded airports in Europe with 1,520 flights on average per day.

“The extraordinary success of Turkish Airlines, which today competes with the giants of the world in the global civil aviation industry, lies behind the breakthroughs and extensive facilities and flawless organizational structure at its new operation center, Istanbul Airport,” Uraloğlu said.

Stating that the Financial Times recently published an article saying that Turkish Airlines is the world’s third-busiest airline after Ryanair and Easy Jet. He said Turkish Airlines increased its air cargo by 16% last year with the air cargo services it offers at 364 points with 24 cargo planes and 416 passenger planes.

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