Turkmenistan Opens $2.3 Billion Bird-Shaped Airport

Written by on September 24, 2016


But will anyone use it?

When countries pour millions of dollars into airport renovations and reconstructions, it’s usually to fill a greater need—often, their current facilities can’t provide for the hundreds of thousands of people using theexisting transport hub, so upgrades are ordered and introduced (see: Mexico City International, Beijing Daxing International, Singapore Changi). No doubt with something of that same thought process in mind, a new, $2.3 billion airport terminal was constructed—and unveiled this weekend—outside of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital city. But will anyone actually use it?

From the outside, it is visually appealing: With its roof in the shape of a flying falcon, the design of the gleaming international terminal resembles the logo of the country’s national carrier, Turkmenistan Airways. Inside, the debuted addition spans five floors, and can reportedly process up to 1,600 passengers every hour.The Agence-France Presse reported that Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said the airport’s addition “would have the capacity to serve 17 million passengers a year, while the freight terminal could handle 200,000 tons of freight annually.”

Eccentric shaped-buildings are nothing new in Turkmenistan, where many structures, including official ones, are idiosyncratic or literal—Ashgabat’s eleven-story “wedding palace” is built to resemble an eight-point star, its White Wheat Museum is framed by—you guessed it—gold fronds of wheat, and the state publishing house, for example, is in the shape of a book. In 2013, the Guinness World Records made it official, and recognized Ashgabat as having the greatest density of marble-clad buildings, estimated at more than 540.

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