Turkey’s airports handled 130 million passengers in 2012, up 10.7% on 2011, and up a staggering 85% in just five years. As a result, Turkey is now Europe’s sixth biggest aviation market in terms of airport passenger numbers, after Europe’s ‘big 5′ of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. However, at the current rate of growth, Turkey is likely to overtake both France and Italy by the end of 2015. While overall growth was just under 11%, the country’s main airport, Istanbul Atatürk, reported growth of just over 20% last year, handling 45 million passengers, helped by an apparently never-ending raft of new routes from national carrier Turkish Airlines (most of which were leaked by anna.aero in December). This meant Istanbul Atatürk was Europe’s sixth busiest airport in 2012 and is on track to move past Madrid into fifth place in 2013 – little wonder that the Turkish government has decided to avoid a London Heathrow style crunch and build a new $10 billion, six-runway facility opening in 2017.
Istanbul’s second airport at Sabiha Gökçen, also reported double-digit growth, as Pegasus Airlines, the country’s leading LCC continued to expand its route network.
By the end of this June, Turkish Airlines is on course to have started well over 30 new routes in a 12-month period from Istanbul Atatürk to various destinations, as summarised in the following table:
|Launch date||Destination||Country||WF* (aircraft type)|
|2 July 2012||Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)**||Mongolia||3 (A320)|
|4 July||Abidjan (ABJ)||Cote D’Ivoire||4 (B739ER)|
|9 July||Aalborg (AAL) [return via Billund]||Denmark||3 (A319)|
|9 July||Billund (BLL) [outbound via Aalborg]||Denmark||3 (A319)|
|26 July||Edinburgh (EDI)||UK||4 (A319)|
|18 July||Osh (OSS)||Kyrgyzstan||3 (A319)|
|31 July||Gyandzha (KVD) [outbound via Nakhichevan]||Azerbaijan||3 (A319)|
|2 August||Nakhichevan (NAJ) [return via Gyandzha]||Azerbaijan||3 (A319)|
|27 August||Kinshasa (FIH)||DR Congo||4 (B739ER)|
|2 September||Sebha (SEB)||Libya||3 (A320)|
|4 September||Djibouti (JIB)||Djibouti||2 (A320)|
|16 September||Nouakchott (NKC) [return via Dakar]||Mauritania||3 (B738)|
|2 October||Aden (ADE) [outbound via Sana'a]||Yemen||3 (A319)|
|9 October||Sharm El-Sheikh (SSH)||Egypt||4 (eqv)|
|17 October||Hurghada (HRG)||Egypt||3 (A319)|
|24 November||Male (MLE)||Maldives||5 (A332)|
|25 November||Kutahya (KZR)||Turkey||4 (B738)|
|4 December||Mombasa (MBA) [outbound via Kilimanjaro]||Kenya||5 (B739ER)|
|4 December||Kilimanjaro (JRO) [return via Mombasa]||Tanzania||5 (B739ER)|
|15 December||Ouagadougou (OUA) [via Niamey]||Burkina Faso||3 (B739ER)|
|19 December||Isfahan (IFN)||Iran||2 (B738)|
|26 December||Kermanshah (KSH)||Iran||2 (B738)|
|31 January 2013||Libreville (LBV) [outbound via Douala]||Gabon||3 (B739ER)|
|1 February||Colombo (CMB) [via Male]||Sri Lanka||5 (A330)|
|1 April||Houston (IAH)||USA||4 (B773ER)|
|3 April||Aqaba (AQB)||Jordan||3 (B73G)|
|25 April||Kuala Lumpur (KUL)||Malaysia||4 (A343)|
|2 May||Friedrichshafen (FDH)||Germany||4 (A320)|
|21 May||Santiago de Compostela (SCQ)||Spain||3 (A319)|
|25 May||Malta (MLA)||Malta||3 (eqv)|
|28 May||Salzburg (SZG)||Austria||4 (B738)|
|4 June||Marseille (MRS)||France||4 (B738)|
|7 June||Constanta (CND)||Romania||3 (A319)|
|11 June||Tallinn (TLL) [return via Vilnius]||Estonia||3 (A319)|
|11 June||Vilnius (VNO) [outbound via Tallinn)||Lithuania||3 (A319)|
|25 June||Luxembourg (LUX)||Luxembourg||4 (eqv)|
|Source: anna.aero new route database
* Weekly frequency when launched
** With technical stop in Bishkek
As a result, the only airline in the world that offers more non-stop destinations from a single airport is Delta at Atlanta, and at the current rate Turkish Airlines is on track to overtake Delta some time before the end of 2013. Another 27 potential new routes aside from those above have already been mooted by anna.aero for launch in 2013.
Turkish Airlines going after Pegasus?
As if starting all these routes from Istanbul’s main airport were not enough, Turkish Airlines is also launching eight new routes from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen during the summer. Three of these (Amsterdam, Tbilisi, Vienna) will be competing directly with Pegasus, while three others (London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa, Paris CDG) serve airports in the same city that Pegasus also serves, leaving only the new services to Baku and Kuwait as non-contested markets.
However, Pegasus is also starting a plethora of its own new routes, and since the beginning of October has added Batumi (Georgia), Belgrade (Serbia), Dubai (UAE) and Lviv (Ukraine) to its network with Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) flights starting on 28 February, followed by Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) in late March.