Turkish Airlines now operates most diverse hub in Europe; 172 destinations served non-stop from Istanbul

To be part of THY’s expansion come and meet and listen to Orhan Sivrikaya, Turkish Airlines’ EVP Commercial, at anna.aero’s Network Planning Conference – “Maximising Your Airport’s Case For Securing New Air Services” – jointly staged with ACI EUROPE and ACI Asia Pacific, and hosted by Abu Dhabi Airports Company, November 28-30 2011. Learn more.

We have decided to go ahead and publish this article, despite today’s news of the tragic earthquake, in recognition of Turkey’s great strides in the face of adversity.

It may not be the biggest carrier in Europe in terms of passenger numbers, fleet size or seat capacity but in one respect Turkish Airlines leads the way. No other carrier in Europe offers as many non-stop destinations from a single airport as Turkish Airlines now does from its Istanbul Atatürk base. This winter, the Turkish national carrier and Star Alliance member will offer non-stop service to 172 destinations, well clear of its nearest rivals Lufthansa (158 destinations non-stop from Frankfurt) and Air France (149 from Paris CDG). Turkish Airlines first passed Lufthansa back in the summer of 2010, but Lufthansa regained the lead in this measure this summer. However, with a recent surge of new route activity, it seems that Turkish Airlines has taken the lead once and for all, unless the opening of the fourth runway at Frankfurt encourages Lufthansa to start adding many more new routes.

Turkish Airlines' network coverage Comparison with Europe's biggest flag carriers Destinations served non-stop from main hub airport

Source: OAG Max Online for first week in February and August of each year.

Among Europe’s LCCs, Ryanair’s biggest base at London Stansted offers 94 destinations this winter,  easyJet’s London Gatwick base connects non-stop with 68 destinations, and Norwegian’s Oslo base offers 57 non-stop destinations. However, all three of these carriers offer rather more destinations during the peak summer season.

Over 30 million passengers in 2011

Turkish Airlines is well on target to easily pass 30 million passengers in 2011. This represents a trebling of its passenger numbers in just seven years. Since 2003, passenger numbers have grown by at least 10% every year. In the first three quarters of 2011, passenger numbers are up 9.6%, suggesting that double-digit growth is once again possible in 2011, especially given the new routes started this year.

Turkish Airlines 2002-2010 Annual scheduled passengers (millions)

Source: AEA

Statistics published on the airline’s website reveal that in the first nine months of 2011 traffic (as measured by RPKs – Revenue Passenger Kilometres) is up 20%, although there are significant regional variations. Domestic traffic is up just 5% and now represents only 15% of the airline’s total RPKs, but domestic passengers still represent 46% of the airline’s total. Traffic growth has been fastest to North America (+60%) and the Far East (+33%), while European traffic is up just 11%.

20 new destinations added in 2011; London Gatwick is latest addition

Is THY fast becoming the national airline of Iraq?

Is THY fast becoming the national airline of Iraq? THY has cleverly seized the feed opportunities to next-door Iraq. Last week’s latest THY launch, to Mosul in Northern Iraq, is the airline’s sixth Iraqi destination which puts it exactly level with Iraqi Airways itself.

At the beginning of this year, anna.aero examined Turkish Airlines’ network growth in 2009 and 2010. By the end of 2011, some 20 new routes will have been added from Istanbul, the latest to be announced being London Gatwick, which is scheduled to start a few days before Christmas.

Launch date Destination (Code) Country WF* (Aircraft)
6 January Agri (AJI) Turkey 7 (B734)
30 January Guangzhou (CAN) China 3 (B773ER)
3 March Los Angeles (LAX) USA 4 (B773ER)
14 March Shiraz (SYZ) Iran 4 (B738)
27 March Valencia (VLC) Spain 4 (A319)
14 April Erbil (EBL) Iraq 2 (B738)
18 April Toulouse (TLS) France 3 (B738)
27 April Malaga (AGP) Spain 3 (A320)
27 May Thessaloniki (SKG) Greece 4 (A320)
8 June Genoa (GOA) Italy 4 (A319)
28 June Basra (BSR) Iraq 3 (eqv)
28 June Naples (NAP) Italy 5 (A319)
5 July Najaf (NJF) Iraq 3 (B738)
10 July Kabul (KBL) Afghanistan 3 (B738)
18 July Sulaymaniyah (ISU) Iraq 4 (A321)
21 July Islamabad (ISB) Pakistan 3 (B738)
2 August Turin (TRN) Italy 3 (A319)
17 October Dammam (DMM) Saudi Arabia 3 (A319)
3 November Mosul (OSM) Iraq 4 (B738)
20 December London Gatwick (LGW) UK 7 (eqv)
Source: anna.aero new route database

*WF: Weekly Frequency when route was launched

All of these new routes will continue to create ever more connecting possibilities. According to the airline’s latest quarterly presentation, connecting traffic now accounts for 38.5% of the airline’s total traffic, and almost half of all connecting passengers are transferring from one international flight to another. While total transfer traffic in the first nine months of 2011 grew by 15.1%, international to international transfer traffic grew by 18.5%.


  1. Ron Kuhlmann says:

    I am curious as to where you get your numbers. According to the Turkish press releases, they currently have 188 total destinations from IST in the WI 11-12 schedule. There are 147 international and 41 domestic. Where does your 172 come from?

    • Ralph Anker says:

      The source of the data is OAG Max Online for the week commencing 6 February 2012. We agree on the 41 domestic routes but according to data provided to OAG by Turkish Airlines they are serving a further 131 international destinations non-stop that week from Istanbul IST airport. The key here is ‘non-stop’ as Turkish Airlines (along with many other carriers with long-haul networks) serves a number of destinations via another destination. In the case of Turkish Airlines such destinations include Accra (ACC), Cape Town (CPT), Dhaka (DAC), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Jakarta (CGK), and Sana’a (Yemen). These are not included in our list of 172 destinations as they are not served non-stop. There may also be seasonal services that do not operate in the week that we have selected as the basis of our analysis.

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