Ten years ago Turkish Airlines had 85 aircraft and carried 10.4 million passengers – and Dublin was not even on its route network. Now the airline has a fleet of 233 aircraft, with an amazing 236 planes on order, and the airline will carry more than 59.5 million passengers this year. Dublin -Istanbul currently has 10 flights per week, which will go to 12 per week this April, with the aim to go double daily. This is a real commitment to the Irish market and will generate not only extra point to point traffic, but will also mean better connecting times for long-haul flights from Istanbul.
In a wide-ranging interview with Irish Travel Trade News, the Chief Executive of Turkish Airlines, Dr Temel Kotil, revealed that part of the strategic plan is to operate four flights a day on many of the routes that it now serves. He also confirmed that Turkish Airlines had engaged in discussions with Aer Lingus with a view to code sharing on transatlantic routes or a joint venture from Dublin, but these negotiations had come to nothing.
The investment in the 263 new aircraft will cost more than €20 billion, funded by going to the market and paying 2.5% interest for these funds.
He said that the airline is now the fourth largest airline in terms of network size and flies to 202 destinations in 105 countries, has 44 domestic destinations, more international destinations than any other airline in the world, and serves more cities in Africa than any other airline.
The growth of Turkish Airlines on his watch has been remarkable, with a passenger growth rate of 363% over the 10 years from 2003 to 2013. The plan is to grow at a rate of 10%, as the carrier has been growing more rapidly than its competitors in the same geographical region.
Turkish Airlines is also the sixth largest cargo carrier in Europe, and carried 565,000 tons in 2013.
Dr Kotil has two PhDs and an MBA and is also the current Chair of the Association of European Airlines.
Turkish – Singapore Codeshare
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines have agreed a major expansion of codeshare ties, covering destinations beyond Istanbul and Singapore.
The Star Alliance partners have been codesharing on each other’s flights on the route Istanbul-Singapore – and vice versa – since February 2009. Singapore Airlines currently operates four weekly flights on the route, increasing frequency on a seasonal basis to six times per week to meet growth in demand, effective from 30th May 2014.
Turkish Airlines operates seven weekly flights between Istanbul and Singapore (and vice versa), which is one of the strategic gateways in line with its development plans to South East Asia and Southwest Pacific.
Under the expansion of the agreement, Singapore Airlines will add its ‘SQ’ designator code to Turkish Airlines-operated flights beyond Istanbul to destinations within Turkey, as well as to points in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America, benefiting from the global network of Turkish Airlines.
On a reciprocal basis, Turkish Airlines will add its ‘TK’ designator code to Singapore Airlines-operated flights beyond Singapore to points in South East Asia and the Southwest Pacific benefiting from the global network of Singapore Airlines.
The expanded codeshare ties are expected to take effect from 1st May 2014, subject to regulatory approvals.