Turkish Airlines still growing at 15%; Baghdad and Birmingham new for this winter

Image: (Left) Star airlines group photo (Right) Handing over a Turikish carpet
Turkish Airlines joined the Star Alliance in April. Turkish Airlines Chairman Dr Candan Karlitekin (left) and CEO Temel Kotil (right) help Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht (second from left) and Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber with a Turkish carpet as part of the traditional gift exchange when a new carrier joins the alliance.

Europe’s politicians may still be arguing over whether Turkey should one day be invited to join the EU, but the country’s national airline is putting most of Europe’s flag-carriers to shame by expanding rapidly and profitably. According to Airline Weekly the carrier had the highest operating margin of any airline in the world in the second quarter of 2008.

While many major European airlines are struggling to achieve any growth at all in 2008, year-to-date passenger numbers at Turkish Airlines are up a phenomenal 16%. Since coming out of the post ‘9/11′ slump in 2004 the airline has been growing by more than 15% per annum. Earlier this year the airline became a full member of the Star Alliance and is on track to carry over 20 million passengers this year.

Chart: 92 -07
Source: ICAO

Last year scheduled traffic grew by 15.3% with domestic passengers up 12.2% to 9.9 million and international traffic growing by 20.1% to 9.7 million. In addition to scheduled passengers, Turkish Airlines flew over 600,000 passengers on charter flights. Annual average load factors have been averaging around the 70% mark in recent years and last year achieved an all-time high of 73.2%.

Chart: Seasonality
Source: AEA, Turkish Airlines

Seasonality is a major issue for the airline with passenger numbers in August around 70% higher than in January.

Image: Group Photo
Turkish Airlines launched Istanbul – Sinop services in August – its 33rd domestic destination. The route is operated three times per week.

Istanbul base serves 139 non-stop destinations

Istanbul Ataturk airport (IST) is by far Turkish Airlines’ biggest base and 139 destinations are served non-stop from the airport, including 107 outside of Turkey. However, the 32 domestic routes still account for over 40% of all flights operated by the airline at IST. From the Turkish capital in Ankara the airline serves just 12 international routes.

Airport Weekly departures Weekly seats Number of routes
(Domestic / International)
Istanbul (IST) 1,522 251,576 139 (32/107)
Ankara (ESB) 358 55,534 35 (23/12)
Izmir (ADB) 146 23,182 4 (3/1)
Antalya (AYT) 108 17,357 4 (3/1)
Adana (ADA) 73 11,557 5 (2/3)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 22 September 2008

The airline operates scheduled services from a total of 34 airports in Turkey though 25 of them handle only domestic flights. Four domestic routes account for nearly half of all domestic frequencies at Istanbul. Ankara is served with 106 weekly flights, Izmir with 99, Antalya with 65 and Adana with 55. Ten further domestic cities are served with at least double daily flights from IST. Turkish Airlines has an impressive 82% of the domestic market in terms of scheduled seat capacity, its only rivals being SunExpress with 13% and Atlasjet with 5%.

The vast majority of international services are operated from Istanbul airport from which 50 countries can be reached within three hours. Turkish Airlines’ 107 international destinations are spread across 69 countries. The only routes across the Atlantic are to New York (JFK) and Chicago (O’Hare). Major cities served in Asia include Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

Image: Anadolu Jet
Turkish Airlines’ subsidiary AnadoluJet began flying from its base in Ankara on 23 April. Chairman of Turkish Airlines’ Board of Directors, Dr Candan Karlıtekin, said that AnadoluJet was bringing a new concept of flight to Anatolia: “We take three points into consideration when we carry out our studies. Adding commercial value to our airline, benefiting our country as its national carrier, and further developing aviation. AnadoluJet is a very important step along that path.”

Baghdad and Birmingham new destinations this winter

So far in 2008 the airline has started two new international routes between Ankara and Tehran (twice-weekly), Antalya and Moscow (daily), and two new domestic routes between Istanbul and Amasya/Merzifon (three times weekly) and Sinop (four times weekly). Flights to Baghdad are due to resume at the end of October (after a 17-year gap) while a new five times weekly service to Birmingham will also start this winter.

This will be the airline’s fourth UK destination after London Heathrow, London Stansted and Manchester. The UK is the airline’s second biggest international market (just ahead of France, Italy and Russia) but is dwarfed in comparison to the German market. There are 141 weekly departures spread across nine German cities all of which are served at least daily.

The airline has confirmed that thrice-weekly services to Strasbourg will end on 23 October.

Fleet grows by 11 aircraft in 2008

The current fleet consists of 109 passenger aircraft split between 56 737s and 53 Airbus ranging from A319s to A340s. So far this year the airline has received four new 737-800s and seven additional Airbus’. According to the airline’s latest presentation it will receive a further two A330s in 2009.

Image: Turkish Airlines across the world


  1. Matthew says:

    I have just took Turkish Airlines from Dublin to Istanbul ,Istanbul to Izmir and Izmir to London.and I like to tell you that , the planes were very clean ,service was first class and ground handiling was more than satisfactory.and their new airports are in western standarts.even better

    it was a pure suprize to me

    I as an American passanger will give them a five star rating and for sure to fly with them again,and one more thing , their planes are all new oldest one is 8 years old. older planes were converted to cargo.

    Dr.Mathew Kaplan

  2. Alp says:

    You say ‘Turkish Airlines has an impressive 82% of the domestic market in terms of scheduled seat capacity, its only rivals being SunExpress with 13% and Atlasjet with 5%.’ However, Onur Air and Pegasus are two big private companies with their own extensive scheduled domestic services.

    anna.aero replies: Maybe Onur Air needs to send details of its services to OAG as they are currently not listed. Similarly, the only Pegasus flights listed by OAG are from Amsterdam to Antalya and Istanbul SAW.

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