Turkish Airlines ‘closing 10 pct gap from Russia with new routes’

Turkish Airlines ‘closing 10 pct gap from Russia with new routes’

DUBAI - Reuters
Turkish Airlines ‘closing 10 pct gap from Russia with new routes’

CİHAN photo

Turkish Airlines (THY) has seen a 10 percent drop in demand on some Russian and southern European routes but was betting on improved demand from new markets to keep its year-end passenger target, said a senior executive. 

Tourist arrivals to Turkey have taken a beating following a spate of bomb attacks this year, including two in Istanbul, usually the country’s biggest tourist draw.

Arrivals from Russia have also been hit by worsening tension between Ankara and Moscow after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria last year.

“We have been opening new routes that will increase demand. I believe that we will meet our year-end targets,” said Ahmet Olmuştur, THY’s chief marketing officer, on April 26. 

Bogota, Panama, Atlanta, Hanoi, Seychelles, Slovakia and Croatia were among the new routes.  

The company was also betting on improved demand from Iran following the recent lifting of Western sanctions against Tehran.

“We’re putting capacity to Iran [up] as far as we can,” Olmuştur said, adding the airline flew to seven destinations in Iran and was looking to increase its capacity from last year by 15 percent in 2016.

THY expected to have 72.4 million passengers this year, representing an 18 percent increase over 2015. The number of THY passengers increased by 10.3 percent in the first three months of the year to 14.2 million compared to the same period of 2015. 

The national carrier also expects to receive 35 new aircraft this year, including 10 wide-body planes, as part of a drive to increase the size of its fleet and lower the average age of its aircraft.

Olmuştur also told reporters in Dubai that the airline aimed to have almost 450 aircraft by 2020, from 311 now.

“People want to fly with new aircraft so we have plans to lower the age of our fleet,” he said.