CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), operator of O’Hare and Midway International Airports, and the General Directorate of State Airports Authority of Turkey (DHMI), operator of Turkish Airlines’ primary hub - Istanbul Ataturk International Airport, joined forces today by signing a “Sister Airport” agreement. The agreement formalizes a commitment between the airport authorities to work collaboratively to strengthen air service, trade, tourism and cultural links between Chicago and Istanbul.
At today’s event in downtown Chicago, CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino and Orhan Birdal, Chairman of the Board and Director General of DHMI formally established the new partnership by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
“This agreement between Chicago and Istanbul is an exciting opportunity to enhance connectivity and business opportunities, and promote tourism and cultural ties,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Attracting more international visitors to our city is a key focus of my administration, and promoting Chicago as a global center for travel and business is essential for our long-term success.”
In addition to the signing ceremony, several distinguished guests gave remarks at the event. They included Michael Madigan, Speaker, Illinois House of Representatives; Faith Yildiz, Consul General of Turkey in Chicago; Mary O’Connor, Alderman, 41st Ward and Don Welsh, President and CEO, ChooseChicago. Levent Selvii, General Manager, Turkish Airlines, Chicago; Sharif Soydan, President and CEO, Niagara Foundation; Hilmi Cinar, Vice President, Niagara Foundation and Jenny Cizner Director of Protocol Office of the Mayor I International Relations and Protocol, also attended the ceremony.
Speaking in Turkish with a translator, Chairman Birdal expressed the importance of today’s event. “Our goal is to reach many people throughout the world and Chicago is one of our goals,” said Chairman Birdal. “Through our Sister Airport agreement with Chicago O’Hare, we hope to mutually improve customer service, operations and sustainable initiatives, and enhance the relationship between our two cities.”
While the MOU is not a legally binding contract, it reflects the intention that the CDA and DHMI will work together to develop mutually beneficial relationship to further the business, commercial and economic growth for their respective cities, regions while fostering mutual cooperation in all aspects of the aviation industry.
“I want to express how excited we are to form this new partnership with our friends in the Middle East.” Andolino said. “As new airport partners, we will not only explore business, trade and cultural relations between our two cities, we will also are share information, expertise and experience in the areas of airport management, technology, planning, construction and sustainability.”
Istanbul Ataturk International Airport is one of two international airports that serve the greater metropolitan Istanbul and is located approximately 14 miles southwest of the downtown area. It was commissioned in 1924 and named for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of Turkey. The airport is served by 60 passenger airlines, providing non-stop service to 90 countries worldwide. Turkish Airlines is its hub carrier. More than 45 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2012.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport is the largest airport in the State of Illinois and the Midwest region, and one of the busiest airports in the world, handling nearly 67 million passengers in 2012. Midway International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the U.S. and is the nation’s premier airport for point-to-point domestic service. O’Hare and Midway handled more than 85 million passengers in 2012 and provide non-stop service to approximately 200 cities worldwide. O’Hare International is also ranked 17th in the world and sixth in the United States for air cargo volume, with more than 1.5 million tons of cargo handled annually. O’Hare is a dual hub airport, serving American Airlines and United Airlines. Turkish Airlines has operated flights from Chicago O’Hare to Istanbul since May 1997.