Turkish Airlines expanding fleet, opening four new routes in 2020
Turkish Airlines will open four new routes in 2020 as it expands and updates its fleet, according to the chairman of Turkey's flag carrier.
"We finished all procedures to launch flights to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Newark, New Jersey, and Vancouver, Canada in 2019," said İlker Aycı, adding that now they are just waiting for the necessary permits.
Beside new destinations, he said the airline will also focus on frequency depth, he added.
After starting service to 10 new international routes in 2019, the carrier closed out the year flying to a total of 318 cities in 126 countries, Aycı noted.
New Istanbul Airport
Calling the airlines' big switch in April from Atatürk Airport to the new mega-Istanbul Airport its biggest move in 2019, Aycı said:
"Turkish Airlines had to have a strong infrastructure, one supporting its growth, in order to achieve its goals without interruption."
Istanbul Airport, the “world's new hub," officially opened on Oct. 29, 2018, the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
At a full annual capacity of 200 million passengers -- with the completion of all four phases with six runways by 2028 -- Istanbul Airport is set to become a global aviation hub bringing in more than 100 airlines and flights to over 300 destinations around the world.
Underlining that the airline reached full capacity shortly after moving to the mega-airport, Aycı said: "With our new home, which made both us and our passengers change our habits, we learned to walk again, putting aside everything we know."
While Atatürk Airport fell short of responding to Turkish Airlines' need for more slots and capacity due to constraints such as runway insufficiency, now it has a larger operational space thanks to Istanbul Airport, he said.
"The third runway to open at Istanbul Airport in 2020 will ease the traffic density," Aycı said.
When the third runway goes live, it will be possible to do an aircraft landing and takeoff every 43 seconds, or more than 2,000 planes a day, he added.
Expanded, updated fleet
Turkish Airlines is continuing to expand its fleet with next-generation aircraft while replacing older models, said Aycı.
By the end of 2019, the airline had 351 aircraft, including 98 wide-body, 229 narrow-body, and 24 cargo planes, up from 332 at the beginning of the year.
"With our current fleet size, we rank 10th among the passenger airlines globally," Aycı said.
"Among the top 10, we have the fourth-youngest fleet."
He added that 28 more aircraft will be added to the fleet in 2020, stressing that the company is open to rental options.
Despite having to ground Boeing 737 Max aircraft and the delay in the delivery of A321 Neo aircraft, Turkish Airlines posted a 2.7 percent rise in its capacity in January-November 2019, Aycı noted.
This came although “we were unable to use 12 planes in our fleet, and 12 new ones were delayed," he explained.
Boeing's top-selling 737 Max was grounded worldwide after crashes which killed hundreds of people and cost the company billions of dollars.
On Dec. 31 Turkish Airlines announced that Boeing had agreed to compensate it for losses from the grounded and undelivered planes.
"Boeing will cover some of our losses and the revenue that we cannot generate because our grounded aircraft are not used in operations," the carrier said in a statement.
In the first 11 months of 2019, the flag carrier served 68.8 million passengers.
"Despite an 11.5 percent contraction in the domestic market in Turkey, we welcomed 28.3 million passengers taking domestic flights, boosting our market share by 2.5 points," Aycı said.
The number of passengers carried via international flights rose 3.5 percent to 40.4 million, he underlined.
Turkish Airlines has 15 subsidiaries and joint ventures including Turkish Technic, Turkish Cargo, Turkish Ground Services, Turkish Opet Aviation Fuels, and Sun Express.
Touching on Turkish Cargo's operations, Aycı said the company kept growing even while the global air cargo sector shrank 3.5 percent.
"Despite these unfavorable market conditions and having to carry out our cargo operations at two different airports, we posted an increase of 9.5 percent in the cargo volume to 1.4 million tons,” Aycı stressed.
Turkish Cargo posted an impressive $452 million in revenue in the first three quarters, he added.