By Tom Degun

Turkish AirlinesDecember 20 - Istanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has received a huge boost after the Turkish Government backed plans to build the world's largest airport in the city within the next four years.

The Government recently concluded the tender process for the airport, which will be the city's third major airport, in order to support growth.

The new airport is set to feature six runways and accommodate an estimated annual capacity of up to 150 million passengers by 2020, making it the largest on the planet behind Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and Beijing Capital International Airport.

The plan for the new airport comes after Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines both announced global expansion strategies which are set to advance Istanbul's position as a global international connections hub.

The expansion will see the Turkish Airlines fleet grow from 203 aircrafts to 375 by 2020 and an extension of its service network to more than 210 international destinations.

Meanwhile, Pegasus Airlines, one of Europe's fastest growing airlines, announced this week that it had made a $12 billion (£7.5 billion/€10 billion) order of up to 100 Airbus passenger jets in what is the single biggest aircraft deal in Turkish aviation history.

Istanbul Atatürk AirportIstanbul Atatürk Airport is currently the city's main airport but it will be eclipsed by the major new international airport that is set to be completed in the next four years

"When I first came to office, 100 planes made up 67 per cent of the total commercial fleet in Turkey," said the Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım.

"Today, one of our companies [Pegasus Airlines] sets a target for 2023 and signs a $12 billion (£7.5 billion/€10 billion) deal.

"We are also set to build the world's biggest airport and there will be no problems when it becomes operational in three to four years.

"This shows how the political will has changed the country."

As part of the move to make Istanbul one of the world's most connected destinations over the next decade, there are also plans for a third bridge across the Bosphorus and the Istanbul 2020 bid leader Hasan Arat said the ambitious transport vision could help the city secure the Olympics and Paralympics.

"This huge level of investment from the public and private sectors demonstrates the mood of optimism and ambition in Turkey right now," said Arat.

"Istanbul is not just investing in infrastructure – it is investing in mobility.

"That means improving the experience of travelling to and around the city for its visitors, and making the city more liveable for its residents.

"Istanbul's bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 is perfectly aligned with the city's long-term development plan.

"The infrastructure innovations that will allow us to offer athletes average travel times from Village to venue of just 20 minutes will leave an invaluable legacy for the city and its people for generations."

Istanbul are bidding against Madrid and Tokyo, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set to select the host city on September 7 next year at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

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