Posted on 14 February 2011
Turkish Airlines still growing at 15%
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.
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%.
Seasonality is a major issue for the airline with passenger numbers in August around 70% higher than in January.
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.
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.
Turkish Airlines’ subsidiary AnadoluJet began flying from its base in Ankara on 23 April. Chairman of Turkish Airlines’ Board of Directors, Dr Candan Karlitekin, 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.
Source: Anna aero