The world's largest airport, to be constructed in Istanbul by 2017, will be named after Turkish former prime minister and president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports.

Istanbul's third airport is expected to be a monstrous super hub serving 150 million passengers per year, taking the place of the existing main airport named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

The symbolic baton-passing between Ataturk and the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey's politics for the past 12 years, did not go amiss in the comments by Transport, Maritime and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan.

"He deserves it, if this is the case (that the airport is named after him)," he told reporters, according to AFP. "If there is stability in this country, if we continue to grow and our economic competitiveness continues to increase, we owe this all to Erdogan."

"Whatever is done will not be worthy of him, because he has given so much effort over the years," he added. The minister was responding to a report in the Taraf daily which raised the possibility that the airport would be named after Erdogan after his official inauguration.

The airport's ambitious project, costing $30bn (£17bn), raised environmental concerns as the site is located in one of Istanbul's sparse forest areas.

It would not be the first location to be named after Erdogan in recent years. Rize University, in the province of Rize where Erdogan's family is from, was changed to Recep Tayyip Erdogan University in 2012. It also named two newly discovered fish "Recepi2 and "eminae" in January this year - allegedly in reference to Erdogan and his wife.

Secular opponents to Erdogan's Islamist AK Party accuse him of megalomania and of breaching the secular legacy of Ataturk.