Discover the essential operational analysis of Istanbul Airport (IST). We’ve analyzed and benchmarked Turkey’s biggest airport concerning flights, punctuality, and cancellation rates in 2021. Here are the results!

Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) — Flights, Punctuality & Cancellations in 2021

Istanbul Airport (IST) — Flights, Punctuality & Cancellations in 2021

We continue the most detailed airport analysis with Turkey’s Istanbul Airport (IST). Istanbul Airport is one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing airports and Turkish Airlines’ home base. Therefore, we analyzed its performance in 2021: Flight rankings, punctuality reports, and cancellation rates. Moreover, we benchmarked the airport’s flight performance against regional averages. Here’s what’s contained in detail:

Performance Overview
Flight Volume Analysis
On-Time Performance
Cancellations
Pre-COVID Comparison

Istanbul Airport — Performance Overview

We start our analysis with the essential numbers regarding flight volume, pre-COVID comparison, punctuality, and cancellations. Then, however, we will provide more details about each of the figures in the sub-chapters below.

Flight Volume & Pre-COVID Comparison

From February to July 2021, Istanbul Airport operated more than 55,000 flights. On average, the airport handled 9,000 flights monthly. However, as we will see below, the volume distributes quite volatile across the months. Overall, compared to the same period in 2019, Istanbul Airport operated 51.5% of the flight volume.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Flight Volume 2021
Istanbul Airport – Flight Volume 2021
Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Flight Volume Pre-COVID Comparison
Istanbul Airport – Flight Volume Pre-COVID Comparison

On-Time Performance & Cancellations

From February to July, Istanbul Airport achieved a solid departure on-time performance of 90.7%. Departure on-time performance counts all flights that depart at the airport +/-15 minutes to their scheduled departure time. At the same time, 2.5% of scheduled flights at Istanbul Airport were canceled.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport — On-Time Performance 2021
Istanbul Airport — On-Time Performance 2021
Istanbul Ataturk Airport — Cancellations 2021
Istanbul Airport — Cancellations 2021

Istanbul Airport – Flight Volume Analysis

Let’s take a deeper look at the flight volume at Istanbul’s main airport from February to July 2021. From February to May, the airport did not see substantial development. On the contrary, the flight volume hovered 6,500 and 8,000 monthly flights. However, in June, the volume increased sharply by more than 30% exceeding 10,000 monthly flights. On top of that, the airport added another 4,000 flights in July, reflecting a month-on-month growth rate of 38%

Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Flight Volume Analysis
Istanbul Airport – Flight Volume Analysis

Detailed Data
In case you want to have a look at the detailed data, here we go:

MonthNo. Flightsvs. prev. Month
February6,405
March7,97923.7%
April8,3474.6%
May7,6468.4%
June10,00930.9%
July13,85438.4%
Avg. ’2154,285
Istanbul Airport (IST) – Flight Volume Details: February – July 2021

Istanbul Airport – On-Time Performance

During the entire analyzed period, Istanbul Airport delivered a solid on-time performance. Except for February and July, the airport operated at a punctuality level above 90%. Moreover, and although IST is one of Europe’s biggest airports, its on-time performance has been constantly above the EMEA average. For example, from February to May, Istanbul on average was 5pp above the EMEA average. On top of that, in June and July, IST’s on-time performance was ~6pp. respectively ~12pp better than the EMEA average.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Punctuality Rate Development 2021
Istanbul Airport – Punctuality Rate Development 2021

Detailed Data
In case you want to have a look at the detailed data, here we go:

MonthISTEMEA Average
February87.1%82.6%
March92.2%87.2%
April92.0%87.1%
May92.9%86.6%
June91.3%94.9%
July88.6%76.9%
Avg. ’2190.7%85.9%
On-time performance: Istanbul Airport (IST) compared to EMEA average

Istanbul Airport – Cancellations

Contrary to its fantastic on-time performance, Istanbul Airport delivered weaker results in terms of cancellations. On average, 2.5% of the scheduled flights were canceled — that’s 0.7pp more than the EMEA average. However, April to June seems to be the months where the airport encountered some problems. During that time, IST’s cancellation rate even exceeded 3%. On the other hand, Istanbul’s cancellation rates were similar to the EMEA average when looking at February and March. Moreover, in July, Istanbul performed better than the EMEA average.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Cancellation Rate Development 2021
Istanbul Airport – Cancellation Rate Development 2021

Detailed Data
In case you want to have a look at the detailed data, here we go:

MonthISTEMEA Average
February2.6%2.6%
March1.6%1.6%
April3.4%2.0%
May3.6%1.8%
June2.6%1.1%
July1.1%1.6%
Avg. ’212.5%1.8%
On-time performance: Istanbul Airport (IST) compared to EMEA average

Istanbul Airport – Pre-COVID Comparison

To provide more context, we put Istanbul’s flight figures in relation to pre-COVID volume. Therefore we benchmark 2021 data with 2019. Between February and July, Istanbul Airport operated on average 8,000 fewer flights in 2021. However, here’s the important figure: IST managed to reduce the gap to pre-COVID volume from 54% to 29% from February to July. As a result, in July, Istanbul Airport operated almost 72% of the traffic at the same time in 2019.

Istanbul Airport — Traffic in 2021 and Gap to 2019

Detailed Data
In case you want to have look at the detailed data, here we go:

MonthFlights 2021Flights 2019’21 vs. ’19 (abs)’21 vs. ’19 (%)
February6,45015,4909,040 58%
March7,97917,0589,079 54%
April8,34716,0507,703 48%
May7,64617,79310,147 57%
June10,00918,4978,488 46%
July13,85419,3105,456 28%
Average9,04717,3668,318 48.5%
Istanbul Airport – Number of Monthly Flights Compared to Pre-COVID

Used Data

The shown information is based on OAG data and internal data sources. Whenever stated, EMEA refers to airlines based in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa.

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Benjamin is a content-maniac, music-lover, aviation-enthusiast, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions to change the way airlines, airports, and aviators use information. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry and working with renowned airlines + airports worldwide.

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