Focusing on “being number one” don’t solve problems

Yazan: Güventürk Görgülü

I think you’re aware that the Republic’s 95th-anniversary celebrations have been a bit controversial. Whether the reception was in Istanbul or Ankara, we had a Republic Day accompanied by discussions such as the name of the 3rd Airport. I do not intend to be a party to discussions such as Ankara or Istanbul or Abdülhamit or Atatürk, but I could not stop saying two words about our mega airport, which was opened on Republic Day.

On October 28, I wrote on my Twitter account that the new airport to be opened in Istanbul is the largest waste project in the history of the Republic with the third bridge project. While many agree with this statement, many criticized this view and accused me of being short-sighted, like those who once opposed the roads Menderes had done.

I’m against conducting political debate over symbols, and I’m avoiding it especially because I think that kind of debate means beating water in the air. My criticism of the airport was not about the political symbol of the airport, but about economic requirements. So I think this project is a job that wastes the country’s resources in every way, leads to huge social costs economically, and will open it up even more.

The first reason for this idea is that the project was designed directly as “the largest airport in the world”. Because an airport project, like all kinds of transportation projects, should be considered a public service and should be designed. The mainstay of public service should be designed with the “Largest” in terms of public interest, not “largest” in terms of scale. The simplest way to find this is to answer the question “How can the greatest social benefit be delivered to society at the lowest cost”.

During the opening ceremonies of this “Mega” project, which is called “Istanbul Airport”, you have seen live broadcasts made on television. Following the characterization of “largest airport”; when completed, the passenger capacity to be reached, within two hours, so many countries, within three hours will be in the state of a center that can reach so many countries, will become a transfer center for Europe, etc. comments were made. However, none of these interpretations mentioned how the project would make life easier for the people of Istanbul, how it would contribute to transportation in the city, to urban life, to the ecosystem of the city, and how it would benefit the transportation costs of the people of the city. It is perfectly normal not to mention them because the work done does not benefit the people of Istanbul, unfortunately.

I’ll explain right away why it’s not.

If you pay attention; All the accolades made about the new airport, all the numbers of passengers and flights, all the advantages described, as if there are no airports in Istanbul so far, Istanbul is being transferred as if it were getting an airport for the first time. This is because, without a doubt, the project completely ignores the functions of the existing airports in Istanbul…

As you know, there are two airports in Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) on the Anatolian Side and Ataturk Airport (IST) on the European Side. IST’s annual passenger capacity has reached its limit of 65 million this year. Saw’s number of passengers this year is around 35 million. However, with additional investments in SAW, its capacity will be increased to 41 million this year and the additional runway will be increased to 63 million in the coming years. In other words, Istanbul already has a capacity of 100 million passengers with two airports and around 130 million very soon. So if it’s going to be a flight center or a Hub, as it’s said, it’s already largely a feature. In the meantime, IST’s pre-planned capacity increase projects were abandoned in 2012, when the 3rd airport was decided. In another name, Ataturk Airport is also likely to expand.

Now that you have two pre-built, cost-paid, alternative routes and two airports connected to the city center by metro, you are building a new airport that will initially reach 90 million passengers and 150 million passengers when completed. With this project, your total passenger capacity will reach 280 million. So when will the demand for 280 million passengers be made in Istanbul?

According to projections published by Bahçeşehir University Center for Economic and Social Research (BETAM) in June 2013, turkey’s optimistic growth scenario has increased the total number of passengers in Istanbul by 2030 to more than 150 million and more than 200 million people in 2043. So it’s at least 50 years for 280 million passengers. Ataturk Airport is also being closed due to this dormant capacity and the necessity to cover the cost of the new airport.

Although the new project is financed by the private sector with the “Public-Private Cooperation” model, it is clear that most of the cost will be paid by citizens who use and do not use the airport. The higher cost, higher interest expense, higher rent to pay, and, of course, higher profit expectation will mean higher per-person pay for those using the airport, as well as more distance, more transportation costs, and higher operating rents in the terminal will cause more expensive eating and drinking costs. Higher payments by airlines to the airport for planes and other services will of course be reflected in passengers as higher ticket prices. It also costs metro lines alternative routes to be built to get to the new airport.

I’m not talking about the huge social costs in Istanbul due to the ecological collapse, as it could be a topic of writing in itself.

So what I’m trying to say is, I’m not going to let you down. Being the “biggest” or being “Number One” can’t be a goal for companies, cities, or countries. James Womack, the founder of the Lean Thinking Foundation and the Lean Enterprise Institute, has been involved several times in both Toyota’s loss for the first time in its history and Volkswagen’s thoughts on the exhaust gas scandal. What he was saying, Womack said: “Toyota has always wanted to be the best at solving customer problems by using the least amount of resources since its inset, so that it could survive. But in the mid-1990s, he changed direction and accepted the common view in business that growth in any way is good and that being the greatest is best.”

Here is similar to what happened in Turkey today at Toyota, Volkswagen, and many companies that have failed. Instead of focusing on solving society’s problems with the least resources, it’s focusing on being the biggest, the first one that no one cares about.

Translated from original Turkish copy at:

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