Turkish Airlines is considering non-stop services to Australia. Speaking at the IATA annual general meeting, the carrier’s CEO, Ahmet Bolat, outlined the carrier’s ambition to start operating flights from Istanbul to both Sydney and Melbourne in 2026 or 2027
Turkish Airlines now operates flights to around 300 destinations worldwide from its hub at Istanbul Airport, more than any other airline. However, Australia is one of the few countries that does not feature on the carrier’s extensive route network.
Istanbul Airport itself is also keen for the carrier to launch non-stop flights to Australia. Last year, the CEO of the airport’s operators, IGA Airport Operations, Kadri Samsunlu, told, “It is a high priority for us to connect Istanbul Airport with Australia, and provide access for Australian visitors to 40+ Turkish destinations and 120+ European destinations via IST.
This is the only continent that Turkish Airlines doesn’t fly to."The logistics of non-stop flights to Australian-stop flights from Istanbul to Australia would take in the region of 17 hours, and Turkish Airlines does not now have the right aircraft to make the ultra-long-haul flights viable.
To make such services work operationally and financially, the airline would require to operate the Airbus A350-1000XWB or Boeing 777X. These aircraft are capable of flying a large number of passengers long distances, in line with Turkish Airlines’ business model.
Talking about timescales for the potential launch of non-stop flights to Australia, Bolat, who took over the role of CEO from İlker Aycı in January this year, said, “Whenever we decide on one of those aircraft, it will be the right one at the right time. Let’s see how both types develop. We don’t require to be a launch customer. We need to see the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350-1000’s proof of its maturity.”
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Flights from Australia to London and New York
Bolat was also keen to stress the difference between Turkish Airlines’ plans and those of Qantas’ Project Sunrise, which would see the Australian carrier operating non-stop flights from Australia to London and New York. He stated, “This [Sunrise] is a different product with less capacity.
We require more seats and we’re not going to change our business model.”Turkish Airlines’ presence in AustraliaTurkish Airlines now has a strong codeshare network in Australia, thankfulness to its partnerships with Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. The carrier is also looking at operating fifth-freedom flights, with routes via Malaysia and Indonesia being mulled over. Bolat went on to say,
We are talking with our codeshare partners because it is more comfortable to work with Australia with the same aircraft.”While non-stop services to Australia may be some way off, for now, one of Turkish Airlines’ major future development markets is China and the Far East.
The airline is reportedly looking at flying to new destinations in the country, as well as boosting frequencies on existing routes. It also wants to further expand its presence and market share in Europe through its subsidiary AnadoluJet.
In a few years, a combination of the right aircraft type and Istanbul’s strategic location would make Turkish Airlines ideally placed to offer competitive non-stop flights to Australia, providing passengers in much of Europe with convenient links via Istanbul.
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