Cairobserver — Comparing numbers: Cairo's terminal 3 and Istanbul airport extension

Comparing numbers: Cairo’s terminal 3 and Istanbul airport extension

Below are the numbers for Cairo International Airport's terminal 3 (built between 2004 and 2009) and Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport's extension (built between 2002 and 2006). Both airport terminals were constructed by TAV Construction, where the following numbers were obtained.


Terminal design capacity: 11,000,000 passengers per year
Terminal building area : 200,000 m²
Total Construction Site Area : 500,000 m²
Passenger boarding bridges : 23 units
Check-in islands : 6 units
Check-in counters : 110 units
Elevators : 63 units
Escalators : 51 units
Travelators: 2,364 linear meters (50 units)
Baggage claim carousels : 7 units
Baggage handling system capacity: 4,800 baggages / hour
Total construction period: 36 months (est.)

Project Cost:
US$ 347,000,000


Terminal Design Capacity: 20,000,000 passengers per year
Total Construction Site Area: 500,000 m²          
Terminal Building Area: 264,000 m²                          
Auxiliary Structures Area: 135,000 m² 
Car Park Area: 179,000 m²            
Car Park Capacity: 7,076 vehicles
Airport Hotel Capacity: 85 rooms
Passenger Boarding Bridges: 23 units
Remote Boarding Gates: 12 units
Check-in Islands: 7 units
Check-in Counters: 224 units
Elevators: 57 units
Escalators: 29 units
Travelators: 2,060 linear meters (35 units)
Baggage Screening X-Ray Machines: 40 units
Baggage Claim Carousels: 11 units
Total Construction Period: 27 months

Project Cost:
US$ 306,000,000

Both airport projects were built by the same contractor, roughly during the same period. Cairo’s terminal is meant to handle 11 million visitors while Istanbul’s extension increased its capacity to handle 20 million. Also both projects (Cairo’s terminal 3 and Istanbul’s terminal extension) are roughly the same size, although Istanbul’s extension is 64,000 m² larger and includes more services such as a 85-room hotel. While Cairo’s construction took more than 36 months, the slightly larger terminal extension in Istanbul was complete in 27 months. However, when comparing the numbers of these two projects, the biggest question mark arises in regards to the project cost: While Cairo’s terminal cost $347 million, Istanbul’s extension (with larger construction square footage and services) only cost $306 million. Important to note the stark difference in worker wages between the two countries.

In addition, Istanbul’s airport is connected to the center of the city via public transport with a metro bringing travelers to the city and linking with trams. Cairo Airport continues to be accessible only by taxi or private car. Although plans are in place for the city’s third metro line to reach the airport, the projected date for this essential step isn’t until 2020, deliberately far behind, especially in a country with a massive potential for tourism.

Furthermore, for Egyptians looking to welcome their loved ones arriving in the new terminal they must pay an entry fee of LE5. The fee is perhaps designed to limit the number of Egyptians entering the arrivals hall especially poor Egyptians welcoming back their family members working abroad.

Al-Ahram Weekly reported in 2010 plans for Aero City, a LE950 million development including five-star hotels and an aqua park to be built within the airport complex. At the same time a LE500 million contract for a 330 room hotel opposite Cairo’s terminal 3 was signed with the Bin Laden Construction Group, which Egypt has contracts with for airport construction in other cities including Alexandria and Assiut and Sharm El Sheikh. The hotel was to be done in 30 months.

Last March civil aviation employees protested and complained about massive corruption in the construction and management of the airport, as Al-Ahram Weekly reported. The most significant difference between Istanbul’s airport extension and Cairo’s new terminal is the way in which the money needed for these projects has been paid. While Egypt simply borrowed a massive loan from the World Bank, keeping an indebted Egypt on its knees, Istanbul paid for its airport by allowing TAV a concession to operate it for 15.5 years at $3 billion, after which it will be transferred to the state at no cost.

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