Turkey’s airport traffic grew by 6% in 2008 fuelled by rapid expansion of Turkish Airlines

Image: Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines recently launched a thrice-weekly service from Istanbul to Nairobi, using an A320. Last year the airline grew its scheduled passenger numbers by an impressive 15.6% to 21.87 million.

While total traffic at all airports across Europe remained basically unchanged in 2008, Turkey’s airports reported traffic growth of almost 6% from 70.3 million in 2007 to 74.4 million in 2008 according to traffic statistics from DHMI. Just two airports, Istanbul Ataturk (with over 23 million annual passengers) and Antalya (with almost 19 million passengers), account for over 55% of the country’s air passenger traffic. Apart from these two airports, seven others also handled at least one million passengers last year.

Chart: Top 12 Airpots
Source: DHMI

Three airports reported double-digit growth; Ankara Esenboga, Dalaman and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen.

Seasonality profile varies significantly by airport

Image: Airport
Istanbul Ataturk handled over 23 million passengers in 2008. Demand is reasonably normal with summer peak (August) traffic around 50% higher than in January.

Turkey’s major airports have widely differing seasonality profiles. Demand to and from Istanbul Ataturk is reasonably normal with summer peak (August) traffic around 50% higher than in January. However, Antalya’s monthly traffic varies between 410,000 in December and over three million in August. For four months of the year (June to September) it handles more passengers than Istanbul’s main airport.
However, even more extreme are Bodrum and Dalaman airports which serve major tourist areas, where monthly traffic flows are less than 30,000 in winter but jump to almost 700,000 (for Dalaman) and 600,000 (for Bodrum) in summer. Overall the country’s demand profile is still relatively peaky.

Chart: Seasonality
Source: DHMI

Provisional airport figures for January 2009 show that traffic is still growing at around 7%.

Turkish Airlines now serving over 110 international destinations

As one of the fastest growing major airlines in Europe, Turkish Airlines now serves over 110 international destinations having most recently added Baghdad (October), Birmingham (December), Nairobi (February) and Ufa (this month). Mashad (in Iran) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) will be added before the end of March. Sao Paulo will be served via Dakar in Senegal. New domestic destinations such as Canakkale and Usak have also been added in recent months.
Last year the airline grew its scheduled passenger numbers by an impressive 15.6% to 21.87 million (Source: AEA) while increasing its average load factor by 1.5 percentage points to 74.6%.
Compared with last summer the airline is increasing frequencies on a number of long-haul services. New York weekly frequencies increase from eight to nine, Chicago from five to seven and Seoul from three to four. Hong Kong, Singapore and Johannesburg/Cape Town also get an extra frequency. However, Bangkok’s weekly flights are reduced from 10 to seven.

Pegasus expanding scheduled network

Image: Pegasus plane
Pegasus operates scheduled flights this winter from its main base at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen to several European destinations, including Amsterdam, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Dűsseldorf, London Stansted, Munich, Stuttgart and Zurich.

Formed 18 years ago as a joint venture between several companies (including Aer Lingus) Pegasus has now grown to a fleet of 15 737s (of which 10 are -800s) according to the airline’s website. Initially operating as a charter airline scheduled domestic flights began in 2005 followed by international routes a year later. Since 2005 the airline has been owned by ESAS Holdings and is a member of IATA.
Listed among the ‘Management Family’ on the airline’s website are Moritz Suter (ex-Crossair) and Ray Webster (ex-easyJet). Last year the airline (and its partner airline IzAir which operates three A319s from Izmir) handled some 4.4 million passengers, up 15% on the previous year.
From its main base at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport Pegasus operates scheduled flights this winter to several European destinations including Amsterdam, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Dűsseldorf, London Stansted, Munich, Stuttgart and Zurich. Flights to Eastern Europe are hampered by the existing bilateral agreements since Turkey is not a member of the EU.

Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen; where LCCs from Europe and Middle East meet

Apart from local airlines such as Pegasus, SunExpress and Turkish Airlines, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen also attracts a fascinating mix of western and Middle Eastern LCCs with easyJet, MyAir and SkyEurope sharing apron space with the likes of Air Arabia and Jazeera Airways. During winter a number of other LCCs also operate scheduled flights to Antalya. These include Jetairfly, Norwegian, Transavia and TUIfly.

Image: Red Carpet
Here’s a 40,000 attendance traffic booster to look forward to: The June 7 Turkish Grand Prix takes place on the Istanbul Park Formula 1 Circuit located on Asian side of the Istanbul – about 20 minutes away from Sabiha Gokcen Airport.

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