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Istanbul's airport reopens, flights resume after coup attempt

The closure of Istanbul's Ataturk airport late on Friday had caused the diversion of 35 airplanes and cancelled 32 flights, Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci told broadcaster CNN Turk. Photograph: (Getty)

Reuters Istanbul, Turkey Jul 16, 2016, 04.21 PM (IST)
Turkish Airlines resumed flights from Istanbul's international airport today following a failed coup attempt while some foreign carriers cancelled weekend flights.

Forces loyal to Turkey's government fought today to crush the last remnants of a military coup attempt. Television images late Friday had shown tanks parked in front of the airport.

A spokesman for Turkish Airlines said flights had now returned to their normal schedule from Europe's third largest hub, though delays were to be expected.

Turkish budget carrier Pegasus said its flights were also experiencing minor delays.

The closure of Istanbul's Ataturk airport late on Friday had caused the diversion of 35 airplanes and cancelled 32 flights, Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci told broadcaster CNN Turk.

Lebanon's Middle East Airlines said it would resume twice daily flights to Ataturk from Sunday.

British Airways said in a statement it was halting all flights to Turkey on Saturday and one on Sunday as a precaution.

"The safety and security of our customers and crew are always our top priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so."

More than 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year according to the foreign and commonwealth office.

EasyJet said its advice from British authorities was to continue flying, but it was monitoring developments.

The attempted coup follows a series of bombings that hit Turkey this year, including a suicide attack in June that killed 45 people at Istanbul's main airport. They have weighed on international travel to the country.

The number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell by 28 per cent in April, data showed on Friday, the biggest drop in 17 years.

The decline signals more pain for Turkey's economy, which is smarting from slowing exports and weak investment. Some economists have forecast that tourism revenue will drop by a quarter this year, costing around $8 billion.

German airline Lufthansa cancelled all its flights to Istanbul and Ankara today and pared back the number flights to holiday destinations Bodrum and Antalya.

TUI travel and tourism company which owns the Thomson and First Choice holiday companies, said its flights to Dalaman, Antalya and Izmir were operating as normal.

Tour operator Thomas Cook said most German guests who had booked a holiday to Antalya or Bodrum had taken their flights today. It said flights from the UK were operating as normal but, given the circumstances, free cancellations or amendments were possible for customers due to fly to Turkey this weekend.

Russia also suspended passenger flights to the country on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, TASS news agency said.

Turkish and Russian officials had met this week to discuss the restarting of charter flights between the two countries and tourism security after relations soured following Turkey's downing of a Russian jet last year.

State airline EgyptAir also cancelled all flights today to Istanbul, the company said in a statement. The company, which has 14 flights to Istanbul per week, did not say when they were expected to resume.

All flights from Istanbul to Sofia for today had been cancelled, according to Sofia airport's website.

(Reuters)
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