After the transfer of shares, TAV and Malaysia Airports Holding, which has 60% shares, will be partners and have equal rights in the management of the Turkish gateway.
TAV Airports CEO and president, Sani Şener, says becoming a partner is a “bold strategic move “ for TAV, as Istanbul Atatürk Airport is set to be closed when Istanbul's new gateway is put into service.
Sener explains: “It is the responsibility of TAV senior management to anticipate the termination of our Atatürk Airport operation by finding the opportunity to extend our footprint in Istanbul and to benefit fully from Istanbul’s traffic growth potential until at least 2030.
“Throughout the years, we have built a network of airports that are operated by TAV with a collaborative approach in Skopje, Ohrid, Tbilisi, Batumi, Riga, Enfidha, Monastir, Ankara, Izmir, Bodrum, and Gazipaşa.
“Especially, we have created a very strong synergy between Istanbul and Medinah. All these airport operations benefit from the scale and scope of the operations, services and know-hows of our main hub in Istanbul.
“It is the reason why having a presence at Sabiha Gökçen, which will become the second airport of Istanbul when the new airport opens, had become a must.”
Sener says that if Malaysia Airports doesn’t use its right of first refusal, TAV would begin making contributions to the operations at Sabiha Gökçen, after receiving the required approvals.
He adds: “Having a presence in both Istanbul Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen Airports in the next five to six years will help raising productivity and enhancing services to the benefit of our airlines and passengers clients.
“There is a huge portfolio of airlines including some which could not get slots from Atatürk Airport and do not prefer to use Sabiha Gökçen.
“We are providing services to the majority of those airlines in our other airports as TAV and our ground handling services company Havaş has also good relationships with those parties.
“I am convinced we will be able to accommodate a higher number of flights in Istanbul airport system by leveraging this network. We can also offer a comfort zone at those airports for Turkish Airlines and other Turkish airline companies which achieved a massive growth in recent years. I believe there would be good collaborations.
“I am really looking forward joining our forces to those of Malaysia Airports, one of the most prominent airport operators in the world, and to contribute with our respective know-hows and assets to further accelerate the development of Sabiha Gökçen.
“We are convinced there could be further collaborations beyond Sabiha Gökçen with Malaysia Airports on other projects. I think that the intellectual asset and the social capital of these collaborations would be the most precious outcome.
"Our strategy is built on working for our country’s interests and the satisfaction of our employees, customers and investors. We are a company specialized in operating airports; we do not undertake any other projects and glad to utilize our capital stock on an airport in our country.”
Sabiha Gökçen Airport was put into service in 2001 after a tender in 2007, and operations were undertaken by Limak-GMR-Malaysia Airports consortium for 20 years, but this year GMR sold its shares to Malaysia Airports and left the consortium.
In 2013, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport served 15.5 million passengers with 32% increase in the first eight months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.
The capacity is set to be increased with the construction of a new runway and additional parking places for the aircraft, and works are underway to connect Kadıköy-Pendik metro line to the gateway.