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Travel Warnings Issued as Flights Resume From Istanbul

The closure of IST last Friday disrupted flights into and out of Istanbul. Traffic is flowing again, but several countries have issued warnings for travelers headed to Turkey.

While regular operations have now resumed at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport (IST) following last week’s coup attempt, a number of nations have issued advisories for those contemplating travel to Turkey.

The closure of IST resulted in a significant number of flight diversions and cancellations, with the country’s flag carrier particularly affected by the events of last Friday night.

Turkish Airlines alone reported that it had cancelled more than 30 of its flights during the evening. The sudden closure of Istanbul’s main airport also resulted in the stranding of thousands of passengers, many of whom were frightened and confused by the sounds of explosions coming from the outside of the airport.

“There were a whole lot of people running and screaming in the international departures,” passenger Cem Kutlu told the New York Times on Friday.

Fear eventually gave way to tedium as stranded passengers were shown sleeping in corridors and on floors until the airport could resume operations.

But in an announcement via Twitter on Saturday afternoon, Turkish Airlines said that both the airport and its flights had returned to normal.

Other airlines slowly followed suit, with AtlasGlobal, the second-largest carrier to be based at IST, confirming via its Twitter feed on Sunday that, “as of July 17th, our flights are fully operating according to the schedule.”

British Airways, which had canceled all flights into and out of Turkey on Saturday, eventually resumed service on Sunday but warned that passengers could experience delays. At present, American carriers are prohibited from flying into the country by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While the flow of air traffic into and out of IST has returned to normal, a host of countries are urging their citizens to exercise extreme caution when visiting Turkey. The U.S. Department of State has urged citizens to “reconsider travel to Turkey at this time.”

Canada has asked nationals to avoid all non-essential travel to the country while the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office advised citizens to exercise vigilance, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul.

[Photo: Airline.ee]

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July 18, 2016

Everything was calm until 1-2am, then possible shots fired and people screamed/ran into the lower level. There were also tense moments at the baggage carousel (as seen from the TK lounge window) where people leaned against the side wall. Later airport staff left in masses onto buses waiting outside. Around 3-4am there were explosions and F16 flying around. There were reports of military coup using air force properties to attack civilians, an F16 shot down a military helicopter, possibility of the president coming to IST airport, hence tense moments as to whether the airport would be attacked. When announcements were made that government had control and airport will be opened at 6am, many of us were very skeptical because there were continued reports of fighting by the military and we were not sure if there were die hard groups out there in tanks, on planes, or navy vessels. Moreover, a number of us were contemplating whether to fly TK for personal safety reasons. Was later in the morning when things became stabilized, saw military folks arrested on TV. TK was really the only option out there and most of us are too stressed/traumatized and wanted to leave.