In a statement released, IATA’s Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler said, “Once again, innocent travelers have been attacked in a cowardly and murderous act. Our thoughts are with the victims, and their families and friends.”
“Air transport brings people together and facilitates both social and economic development. Istanbul has a particularly significant and historical role in connecting East and West. Last night’s attack was a broad attack on our shared humanity. But terrorism will never succeed in reversing the interconnectedness of the world. The desire of the human spirit to explore and trade will always triumph over suspicion and fear. That Istanbul airport is operating today is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Turkish people and the aviation industry. We stand together in solidarity–confident that we will emerge stronger and more united in our resolve to keep connecting our world,” said Tyler.
“The safety and security of passengers are our top priorities. This tragedy in Istanbul and the one in Brussels earlier this year show that there is a growing challenge for governments to keep people safe in the ‘landside’ parts of the airport. Moving people ‘airside’ more quickly can help to mitigate risk. The industry has a number of initiatives in place to achieve that aim and we are working with governments and airports to implement them,” said Tyler.
Last night three suicide bombers opened fire then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, killing 36 people and wounding close to 150 in what Turkey’s prime minister said appeared to have been an attack by Islamic State militants.
According to reports, one of the attackers opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic weapon, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below.
The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is one of the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey, which is struggling to contain the spillover from Syria’s civil war and battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast.
Police fired shots to try to stop two of the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall, but they detonated their explosives, a Turkish official said.
The vast majority of those killed were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the dead, the official said.
Almost seven hours after the attack, which started around 21:50, no group had claimed responsibility.
The attack bore similarities to a suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Brussels Airport in March which killed 16 people. A coordinated attack also targeted a rush-hour metro train, killing a further 16 people in the Belgian capital.