The Turkish city of Istanbul has faced heavy snowfall this week, which has severely hampered operations at the city's airports. Turkey's flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, has been hit particularly hard, with more than 200 flights canceled thus far. This disruption has also affected the airline's low-cost subsidiary, AnadoluJet.

Extensive disruption

A quick look at data from FlightAware shows the extent of the logistical challenges faced by Turkish Airlines at present. The site lists worldwide delays and cancelations on a daily basis, and the Turkish flag carrier is presently sitting second, only behind China Eastern Airlines, in terms of the number of canceled flights today.

According to The National News, Turkish Airlines had already canceled more than 200 flights since Wednesday due to the adverse weather. This figure accounted for the wider Turkish Airlines Group, and included 20 flights operated by Anadolojet from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW). As for Turkish Airlines itself, it had racked up 114 domestic and 71 international cancelations.

The disruption looks set to continue, or even worsen, today, with a further 243 Turkish Airlines cancelations listed by FlightAware at the time of writing. This represents around 23% of its total daily departures. The site also lists 73 Turkish Airlines flights, or around 7%, as being delayed. Elsewhere in Turkey, The National News notes that Pegasus Airlines had 30 domestic cancelations yesterday.

Turkish Airlines Airbus A321 Snow
The airline looks set to face continued disruption over the weekend. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Continued chaos

Unsurprisingly, the challenging weather conditions have also seen Istanbul Airport (IST) shoot to the top of the rankings in terms of delays and cancelations. At the time of writing, it sat top of the tree in terms of flights disrupted by origin airport, with 104 cancelations (21%). It also had 37 delayed departures (7%).

The data for inbound flights paints a similar picture, with 110 cancelations today (24%), alongside 29 delayed arrivals (6%). Unfortunately for the airport, the situation isn't about to get any better, with further snow forecast over the weekend. As such, 41 outbound and 71 inbound flights have already been canceled for tomorrow.

Being Istanbul Airport's main user, Turkish Airlines looks set to bear the brunt of the disruption over the weekend. At the time of writing, FlightAware was already listing 121 of the carrier's flights tomorrow as having been canceled, accounting for around 15% of Saturday's schedule. Simple Flying has reached out to Turkish Airlines for further information regarding the disruption to its operations.

istanbul snow chaos
This isn't the first time this year that Istanbul Airport has faced heavy snowfall. Photo: Getty Images

Similar issues faced earlier this year

As it happens, Istanbul's airport operations also faced extensive disruption due to wintery weather conditions earlier this year. Indeed, Simple Flying reported in January 2022 that the roof of a cargo building at Istanbul's new airport had collapsed under the weight of fallen snow. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

In that instance, the disruption was so severe that the airport was fully shut down for two days. This marked the first time since its 2019 opening that operations there had ground to a halt. Unfortunately, a lack of provisions forced passengers to stay inside the airport for upwards of 30 hours. With such weather events seemingly becoming more common, perhaps preparedness will improve.

What do you make of this disruption? Has the snow in Istanbul impacted your travel plans this week? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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