Bridge to Istanbul


 Luc Deflorenne

Travel: It is said that the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. Though travelling has become increasingly easy, it’s nice to know there are always new pages to read… even when you take off from Luxembourg.

It might not be noticeable, but Findel has never been so busy. For the first time, the airport is expected to handle over two million passengers in 2013. This is mainly due to the recent launches of new routes by easyJet (to London and Milano) and Vueling (to Barcelona). On June 25, Turkish Airlines joined the newcomers and opened a new route, to Istanbul.

“People have been waiting for three years for this to happen, in part to have an easier access to destinations in the Middle East, like connections to Dubai with less the two hours waiting time,” said Tuncay Eminoglu, general manager of Turkish Airlines in the Grand Duchy. “At the moment, two thirds of the bookings already made have been from people outside Luxembourg, but though we’re expecting to recover a lot of passengers from other airports across the borders, once we’re up and running I think most will come from inside the country.”

The goal is to satisfy both business and leisure travellers, those who want to discover Istanbul or holiday in Turkey, as well as those who will be using Istanbul Ataturk Airport as a gateway to further destinations. “To start with we’re flying four days a week from Findel but we’re hoping to establish daily flights already next year. That will also make connection time in Istanbul shorter.”

Passengers will board an Airbus 319 on weekdays and a Boeing 738 on Sundays--“the newest ones in our fleet. For Luxembourg we found that was very important.” A Turkish Airlines sales office is also opening in Luxembourg’s Airport and he hopes to help “pressure” Findel management to “expand facilities” there in order to make it more attractive for further activity.

Istanbul attractions

Despite the Turkish Airlines Corporate Club and free city tours of Istanbul for those with long connections, the new route also offers a great opportunity to take a trip to Turkey’s largest city. “Everyone should see Istanbul at least once in his or her life”, said Eminoglu, who was born and raised there.

“It’s not only a perfect bridge between Europe and Asia, it’s a city that’s fully alive 24 hours a day. Nothing ever closes--even shopping centres are open on Sundays and holidays. People are always awake, streets always busy. And there’s so much to see and do.”

The unavoidable Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and Grand Bazaar are far, far from the only magical places to visit, and smoking water pipes, visiting hamams, eating lokums and ferrying around the Bosphorus far from the only things to do.

“Istanbul is like a country in itself. You should of course also explore our Ottoman cuisine. Those who rave about French cooking have never tasted authentic Turkish food!”