Turkish Airlines was for many years a small player on the periphery of the European aviation market, focusing primarily on traffic to and from its home nation.
The firm’s primary base was at Istanbul/Atatürk, though a smaller hub was present in the capital Ankara. During the mid-1990s Turkish began an aggressive international expansion which started to put pressure on the facilities at Atatürk. By 2012 its network was larger than any other airline on the planet, capitalising on the location of its hub in Istanbul that made connections between east and west more appealing. Three years later the gateway handled 28 million passengers (surpassing the 25 million it was designed for). With little space to expand and surrounded by residential developments, congestion characterised the airport leading to impacts on flight punctuality and passenger feedback.