Turkish Airlines is proud to say that it is the airline that flies to most countries in the world – no fewer than 124 of them, or well over half of the existing 195 nations.
But your ambitions are greater than that. Owner of one of the largest fleets currently with 336 aircraft, the Turkish airline is undergoing rapid modernization and expansion. In June, the company received its first 787-9 and today has six units of the model. Not satisfied, Turkish closed deal with Airbus to acquire 25 Airbus A350-900 jets – the first of which will be delivered in 2020.
As for single-aisle jets, the Turkish company is at a standstill. Years ago, the airline struck a deal with Boeing to receive 40 737 MAX 8 and 10 MAX 9, of which 12 were delivered until the model was grounded after issues with the MCAS system. Its goal was to finish 2019 with 24 planes, but the lack of perspective on the jet’s return to service made it impossible.
Also with Airbus there are difficulties. The company ordered the A321neo, of which it has already received eight units, and expected to receive 17 more aircraft this year. However, the European manufacturer has been delaying its deliveries and Turkish has already acknowledged that it will have to delay some aircraft.
Many new routes
This scenario does not discourage Ilker Ayci, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board. In an interview with Turkish website Hurriyet, the executive admitted the problems with Boeing and Airbus, but in his view this situation will be overcome.
To account for the expansion of the routes, Ayci talks about leasing more planes, but is also studying an order for Airbus’s A220 jets and Embraer’s E2 family: “We’re interested in the A220 and Embraer 190-195,” said, but without stipulating a number of aircraft.
The Turkish airline now wants to prepare to open new international routes. In its second-quarter earnings presentation, Turkish lists 18 new destinations overseas, but Ayci says he wants to extend routes to South America, where it currently operates in cities such as Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Caracas. And the airline celebrates the good acceptance of its crowded flights to Mexico City and Cancun.
Trump vs. Erdoğan
Turkish’s growth came along with another debut, the new Istanbul airport, which opened in 2019. Considered one of the largest in the world, the new terminal aims to rival Dubai as a global hub, and of course THY is a key part of this strategy.
What may complicate the airline’s plans are disagreements between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his US counterpart Donald Trump.
From a US ally, Turkey was harassed by the US president when it decided to acquire Russian missiles. Trump then announced that he will remove the country from the F-35 fighter program, which has threatened Erdoğan, including canceling the purchase of Boeing aircraft.
It is hoped that friction will not end up slipping on the E2 jets, which will eventually be sold by the same Boeing in the future.