Leak of the week: Turkish Airlines to start 2014 with new routes

Cartoon of TAV, Turkish Airlines, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen and Pegasus

Minted: If you thought the Taksim Square events and other political unrest would cause a blip in Turkey’s exponential air transport growth, well think again. Massive demand and the continued emergence of Turkish Airlines’ Middle-East style hub pushed Turkey’s airports up by a Chinese-beating 15%. A weak lira will only make it this year’s bargain. anna.aero is a close Turkey-watcher – read our Turkish Trendwatch here.

anna.aero can exclusively reveal that Turkish Airlines will add Varna in Bulgaria, the second largest city in the country and the seaside resort on the Black Sea coast, as well as Cotonou, the largest city and economic centre in Benin, to its network in 2014. This disclosure follows our 2013 predictions, when we predicted that 37 new routes were to be launched by the Star Alliance carrier, many of which, including Colombo, Friedrichshafen, Marseille, and Kano were proven correct.

Kobe’s off to Varna

Kobe’s off to Varna: Fabulous Black Sea beaches and Bulgaria’s most important port are next for the Turkish Airlines new route treatment. Turkish Airlines now totally dominates in South-East Europe, drawing up all the feed to serve its ‘bigger than Delta’ Istanbul hub. (Varna Airport is run by Fraport and benefits from a brand new terminal and $55 million in related investments.)

Turkish dominates South-East Europe

In terms of the South-East Europe market from Istanbul (services to Albania, Bulgaria, Boznia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) Turkish Airlines has a clear #1 position. Looking at Innovata/Diio Mi schedules (for w/c 14 January), four airlines offer 126 weekly flights and 18,285 seats to South-East Europe from Istanbul Atatürk and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen. Turkish Airlines leads the way on its seven services into the region, with 72.2% of flights and 68.9% of seats, all from its Atatürk hub, so adding Varna will further strengthen its #1 position. Pegasus Airlines is a distant second, with its five services to the region generating 19% of flights and 24.8% of seats. Turkish Airlines is also the only carrier serving the Bulgaria market, with its double-daily link to Sofia.

Airline Route From Istanbul (IST) WF WS
B & H Airlines Sarajevo (SJJ) 4 264
Turkish Airlines Belgrade (BEG) 17 2,342
Pristina (PRN) 14 1,934
Sarajevo (SJJ) 14 2,092
Skopje (SKP) 14 1,895
Sofia (SOF) 14 1,910
Podgorica (TGD) 4 534
Tirana (TIA) 14 1,896
Airline Route From Istanbul (SAW) WF WS
Air Serbia Belgrade (BEG) 7 882
Pegasus Airlines Belgrade (BEG) 4 756
Pristina (PRN) 5 945
Sarajevo (SJJ) 6 1,134
Skopje (SKP) 4 756
Tirana (TIA) 5 945
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi 14-20 January

Critically for Turkish Airlines, Bulgaria is relatively free of the Middle East Big-3 carriers (MEB3) with only Qatar Airways flying five times weekly to Sofia (in conjunction with Bucharest) with a mixture of A320 and A321 equipment. Due to Turkish Airlines’ ability to serve these types markets with narrow-body aircraft at a low-weekly frequency, coupled with a stronger point-to-point demand for local traffic to Istanbul rather than any of the MEB3 hubs in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, has allowed the carrier to dominate the region.

Turkish also dominates West Africa

When it comes to services into West Africa from Istanbul, Turkish Airlines has 100% of the existing market, flying to eight destinations in the region prior to the expected launch of Cotonou. Several of the markets are served with double-drop operations (Abidjan, Dakar and Ouagadougou), which suffices for the airline until the destination is able to be served non-stop, and at this point it is unclear whether Cotonou will follow this type of flying pattern.

Airline Route from Istanbul (IST) WF WS
Turkish Airlines Abidjan (ABJ)* 4 604
Accra (ACC) 7 1057
Dakar (DKR)~ 4 604
Kano (KAN) 4 604
Lagos (LOS) 7 1057
Niamey (NIM) 4 604
Nouakchott (NKC) 4 604
Ouagadougou (OUA)# 4 604
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi 14-20 January. * Via ACC. ~Via NKC. #Via OUA

While local rival Pegasus is absent in terms of competition in this region, the area is far better-served by the MEB3, with all three flying at least daily to Lagos (Emirates, double-daily; Etihad Airways, daily; and Qatar Airways, daily), but with Emirates also flying to Abidjan, Accra, Conakry and Dakar.

Domestic market earmarked for biggest growth

These two new routes represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the airline’s planned capacity growth for 2014. In recent statements to the Turkish stock exchange it has suggested growth in the following markets: Domestic, +33%; Latin America, +29%; Africa, +25%; Far East, +22%; North America, +20%; Europe, +16%; and Middle East, +13%. Additionally, in 2014 the airline expects fleet size to grow to 267 (207 units today), with 259 destinations to be served (243 today), and it is targeting 59.5 million passengers (versus 48.3 million passengers in 2013 – or +23%!!!).

Like most of you out there, anna.aero will remain very interested in Turkish Airlines’ continued insatiable growth and we will always endeavour to bring you their network development news first.


  1. Casual follower says:

    Wow I am really curious how are they going to accommodate 50 more planes and 11 million more passengers at the already over-capacity Ataturk airport. I am aware they recently made more parking space from the military zone closeby, but this won’t be enough. Sabiha Gokcen cannot take all the load, perhaps Turkish is planning a 3rd hub, e.g. Ankara the capital? 23% passenger growth is still a crazy number even though they sort out parking and airport capacity issues, even for Turkish. Well, looking at their passenger stats I can see passengers increased by more than 20% in 2013, but will it be sustainable? If they reach 59 million passengers, what will be the reaction of big European carriers? Another interesting thing will be watching Schiphol Airport drop to 5th place. 2014 will be an interesting year to watch indeed.

  2. orkun says:

    3rd airport is under construction near Istanbul which if everything goes according to plan will be the World’s biggest and advanced airport also other major airports in Turkey are upgraded, we will see the results soon

Comments are closed