UNTIL recently, the worst thing about transiting through Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport was the heaving throng of passengers crammed into its over-stretched terminals and under-staffed security lines. It was also the best thing. Witnessed from the sanctuary of a barstool with time on your side, the endless haze of Nigerians, Swedes and Pakistanis dancing around one another creates the most sublime of spectacles. It is a modernist dream that quickly becomes a nightmare, of course, when you join the scrum yourself. Yet the appeal of the global hub endures for all but the most battle-worn and hardened of business travellers.
So it was each time Gulliver visited Atatürk until September, when his stopover to East Africa and back took on a more sombre, desolate tone. This was his first time in the airport since June, when IS suicide bombers killed 42 and injured 200 at the hub. The very next month, a failed coup d’état left 250 dead and 2,000 injured across the country. In the airport, complaints about the lack of free Wi-Fi were replaced by uneasy glances over hunched shoulders. Seats were easier to find.
Anecdotal murmurs of a downturn…Continue reading