I just read something on the great Anna.aero site that really interested me. But it also pleased me because it confirmed something I’d noticed without paying too much attention. Turkish Airlines (THY) are on the up – big style!
I’ve been occasionally aware lately of how the airline has been expanding its route network, adding more frequencies and destinations, and upgrading its fleet. I hadn’t even realised that they had another 60 Boeing 737-800s on order – that’s going to be a massive fleet of the type when all are delivered.
It seems that Turkish want to leverage their position to take on the big guns in the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar and Etihad) by turning Istanbul Ataturk Airport into a staging post between East and West, much like we see in Dubai, Doha etc. But whilst the big carriers use mainly larger widebody fleets (especially Emirates), Turkish sees its geographical location as a much better place to operate the smaller Boeing 737-800s from an increasing number of European, Middle Eastern and African destinations, feeding through its Istanbul hub.
“Right now, Turkish serves around 70 cities in Europe, but with over 60 737-800s on order, this will double” promised Dr Temel Kotil, President and CEO Turkish Airlines, in a recent interview with anna.aero.
And to prove the point, Turkish has remained more profitable through the recession, and gone from 10 million passengers per year in 2006, to 30 million today. It will soon take over British Airways as third biggest European carrier.
So it’s probably time to start thinking about what kind of airport Istanbul Ataturk will be for the enthusiast in years to come. Plenty of red tails, for sure. But plenty of action as well.