UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS FROM MINISTER
By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey plans to launch the construction of artificial sea-level waterway Canal Istanbul in 2019, the transport and infrastructure minister said on Thursday.
"Construction of Canal Istanbul should not be delayed till 2020, we hopefully will start it in 2019," Cahit Turhan told Anadolu Agency’s Editor's Desk in the capital Ankara.
Turhan said 10 bridges are planned to be built as part of Canal Istanbul project -- an artificial sea-level waterway that will connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean.
It is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
The planned canal is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, particularly oil tanker traffic passing through the Bosphorus.
The 45-kilometer (nearly 28 miles) canal, which will be built in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere-Durusu corridor, is to boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day.
Answering a question on Istanbul Airport, Turhan said currently 10 flights operate in the airport, whose first phase opened on Oct. 29.
"As of Dec. 31, we are planning to transfer all flights at Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Airport," the minister said.
Hailing the country’s geographical location, Turhan stated that the new airport would enable Turkey to receive bigger share from the global civil aviation market.
He added that some 1,500 planes take off and land on Ataturk Airport per day.
According to the country’s airport authority, the number of passengers passing through Turkish airports reached 182.7 million in the January-October period.