Turkey’s airports grow 15% in 2013; Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines push Turkey past Italy as Europe’s #5

Turkish Airlines' decision to make Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen a second base was celebrated in some style

Turkish Airlines’ decision to make Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen a second base was celebrated in some style at the airport on 31 March 2013. In the last 12 months, the airline’s network at the airport has grown from nine to 30 destinations, while weekly flights have increased by 180%.

Figures published this week by DHMI show that Turkey’s airports processed 150.2 million passengers (including transit passengers), up almost 15% on last year’s figure of 131 million. This means that Turkey has now passed Italy to become Europe’s fifth biggest passenger market after the UK, Germany, Spain and France. Based on current growth rates Turkey could even overtake France as soon as this year to move into fourth place.

Istanbul Atatürk Airport passed the 50-million passenger mark, growing by 14%, while the city’s other airport at Sabiha Gökçen, grew by a phenomenal 27%, and handled well over 18 million passengers, thanks both to Pegasus Airlines’ on-going growth, but also Turkish Airlines’ decision to make the airport a second base for its own operations. Turkey currently has 14 airports handling more than one million annual passengers, and all of them grew in 2013.

Top 15 Turkish airports 2013 Growth in passenger numbers (Total passengers in 2013)

Source: DHMI

Analysis of growth during the course of the year shows that passenger numbers rose by more than 12% in every month except for July, when growth was a more modest 6.5%. This may be related to the high-profile protests that took place in Istanbul at the end of May and beginning of June.

Turkish Airlines now ‘bigger than Delta’ for single-hub connections

Turkish Airlines continues to be Europe’s fastest-growing major legacy carrier. During 2013 it started service to 25 new destinations from Istanbul Atatürk as summarised in the following table.

Launch date Destination Country WF* (aircraft type)
31 January Libreville (LBV) [outbound via Douala] Gabon 3 (B739ER)
31 January Douala (DLA) [return via Libreville] Cameroon 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)
20 May Isparta (ISE) Turkey 3 (eqv)
21 May Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) Spain 3 (A319)
25 May Malta (MLA) Malta 3 (eqv)
28 May Salzburg (SZG) Austria 4 (B738)
3 June Gassim (ELP) Saudi Arabia 4 (eqv)
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)
7 July Kastamonu (KFS) Turkey 4 (B738)
25 July Bingöl (BGG) Turkey 3 (eqv)
27 July Sirnak (NKT) Turkey 3 (eqv)
1 September Kathmandu (KTM) Nepal 4 (A332)
19 November Mazar-i-Sharif (MZR) Afghanistan 3 (A320)
27 November Lahore (LHE) Pakistan 3 (B738)
12 December Kano (KAN) Nigeria 4 (B738)
12 December N’Djamena (NDJ) [via Kano] Chad 4 (B738)
Source: anna.aero new route database      *Weekly frequency when launched

According to Innovata / Diio Mi data for January, Turkish Airlines now serves 215 destinations with non-stop flights from Istanbul Atatürk, up from 196 this time last year. The airline’s only global rival for such a diverse network from a single airport is Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta hub, which, according to the same data source, serves 214 destinations non-stop, an increase of seven from the same time last year.

Confirmed new routes for Turkish Airlines from Atatürk for 2014 so far include Boston, Montreal and Rotterdam, though anna.aero can reveal some additional new routes.

Turkish Airlines triples Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen network

At Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, the airline’s growth has been even more dramatic. In January 2013, Turkish Airlines operated 132 weekly departures across a network of just nine routes, but this January that number has risen to 356 weekly departures spread across 30 routes. The 21 new routes launched in 2013 include domestic routes to Diyarbakir, Elazig, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kars, Konya, Mardin, Samsun, Sirnak and Van, and international routes to Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Kuwait, London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa, Paris CDG, Tbilisi, Tehran, Tel Aviv and Vienna.


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