Fast forward > Istanbul Airport

“We have had a good performance – the outcome is perfect”

Istanbul Airport (IATA: IST) opened in April 2019, complete with a baggage handling system (BHS) engineered, supplied and installed by Vanderlande. Since then, the airport has had to cope with COVID-19 and, as the world opened up again, a surge in passenger demand. So, after four years of operation, how is the BHS working and is it helping Istanbul Airport deliver a great service?

The airport lies 35 km north of Istanbul, Turkey, and boasts the largest terminal under one roof, along with three runways. Currently, it has the capacity to deal with 90 million passengers every year, connecting to over 300 destinations worldwide. It is already the busiest airport in Europe, serving over 64 million passengers in 2022.

The centrepiece of the BHS is Vanderlande’s TUBTRAX individual carrier system (ICS), which can provide 100% tracking and tracing of all bags. The company also installed its BAGSTORE baggage storage system that can handle more than 10,000 early bags at one time.

Complete package

To provide a complete package, other equipment was integrated into the airport systems, including check-in islands, and flight make-up and reclaim carousels. Vanderlande also installed its cutting-edge VIBES software suite, which controls all logistic processes. In addition, the company provides life-cycle services cover based on a five-year operations and maintenance agreement.

Fast forward to the present day and the airport is prospering – despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic. In fact, it was named the “Airport of the Year” at the 2023 Air Transport Awards – one of the most prominent events in the global aviation calendar – for the third consecutive year. And in 2022, it received the accolade of “The Best Airport in the World” in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. These are just a few of several awards IST has earned, with other accolades as varied as Eco-innovation and HR Excellence, and Digital Transformation and Most Family-friendly.

“A year after the successful opening, we had the COVID-19 issue and the number of bags went from almost three million to 20,000 per month in April and May 2020. However, the recovery has been good since then and we were up to almost four million bags in August 2022.”
Zeynel Aksoy
Senior Service Manager, Vanderlande

Strong relationship

The working relationship between the airport and the experienced Vanderlande team has gone from strength to strength. “We work very closely with Vanderlande, with incident meetings each day and these are making our relationship more productive,” says Ogün Vardar, BHS Reporting Specialist at iGA Istanbul Airport, the company that operates the airport.

The state-of-the-art BHS comprises four identical systems, which deliver a high level of redundancy – if one goes down, the other three can work as cover to provide an availability level of 99.99%. This greatly benefits the airport’s daily operations.

“The BHS was designed for a good passenger experience,” explains Zeynel. “One of the things we measure is the in-system time. Currently, it’s around eight minutes per bag – and that means that passengers are very happy.”

The airport looks at KPIs to gauge the success of its service agreement with Vanderlande. They reveal important data on the availability of the BHS and IT systems, as well as the number of missed and damaged bags.

“The system and technology are very good, which results in excellent reliability and availability,” says Ogün. “Unlike other departments, the BHS has a direct effect on passenger flow and in this respect we have had a good performance in the past five years – the outcome is perfect.”

“They are friendly and professional, and always try to help us find solutions. And the best part of working with Vanderlande is that they have an excellent response time when it’s needed.”
Ogün Vardar
BHS Reporting Specialist, iGA Istanbul Airport

Future-proof solution

The airport team is also impressed with how Vanderlande introduces upgrades and embraces new technologies, as Ilker Çelepçikay, iGA’s BHS manager explains: “I think Vanderlande is future-proof, because for example they have recently been detecting bags going out of the BHS lines with AI cameras. In addition, we are very happy that the BHS has had a positive effect on the airport winning so many awards.”

The initial life-cycle service agreement between IST and Vanderlande expires later in 2023. In addition to overseeing the operational performance and maintenance of the BHS, the contract sees Vanderlande take responsibility for IT and control systems.

“We look forward to continue working with Vanderlande. We believe that they are a reliable partner for Istanbul Airport with a high level of professionalism and confidentiality among their dedicated team.”
Ilker Celepcikay
BHS Manager, iGA Istanbul Airport
“Every milestone has been impressive, and we achieved it all in less than four years!”
IGA Istanbul Airport
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“To minimise the risk involved, we made a strategic decision to select Vanderlande for the BHS operation”
İlker Çelepçikay, BHS Manager | IGA Istanbul Airport
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