Mahathir visits Turkish airport owned by MAHB


ISTANBUL – Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad Friday visited the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISGIA) here which is wholly-owned by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).

Dr Mahathir, who arrived at the airport from the Turkish capital city of Ankara, spent about an hour looking at the operation of the airport, located about 45 km from the city centre.

He was accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.

Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah were received upon arrival by Khazanah Nasional Berhad managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan; MAHB chairman Tan Sri Zainun Ali and MAHB Group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.

Also present were Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking, Foreign Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob and Turkish Ambassador to Malaysia Merve Kavakci.

Dr Mahathir was briefed by Raja Azmi on the history of the full acquisition of the airport by MAHB in 2014, its achievements and development as well as the future plans.

Raja Azmi, in his briefing, said the airport handles 41 million passengers annually and can increase its capacity to 60 million when it has a new runway.    

He said Malaysia, through MAHB, is the only ASEAN country that owns an airport in Europe. 

The airport handles 53 airlines flying to 131 international destinations and 41 domestic destinations, he said.

 The prime minister then toured the airport.

Opened in January 2001, Sabiha Gokcen is the second-largest and busiest airport in Turkey and boasts the world’s busiest single runway and terminal. It is also the 12th busiest airport in Europe. 

Dr Mahathir arrived in Ankara on Wednesday for a four-day official visit to Turkey.

A busy schedule awaits the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir here Friday, with the events including a ‘Captains of Industry’ roundtable discussion and hi-tea with the Malaysian diaspora.