Turkish Airlines takes its fleet to greater heights

2018-03-13 10:30 - Ethan Van Diemen
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Cape Town – Turkish Airlines, based in Istanbul, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft plus five options (to buy more). 

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“With Turkish Airlines serving more destinations than any other airline around the world, we are delighted to build our future on Airbus’ all-new A350 XWB to support the development of our international route-network from our Istanbul and Ankara hubs.” said Turkish Airlines Chairman, Ilker Ayci.

“We are extremely proud at Airbus to count Turkish Airlines as a new A350 operator, the world’s most modern and efficient widebody aircraft.” said Eric Schulz, Chief Commercial Officer at Airbus. Schulz continued to state that ”this order strengthens and expands the long-lasting partnership between Airbus, Turkish Airlines and Turkey overall.”

At present, Turkish Airlines operates a substantial Airbus fleet of 167 aircraft with a further 92 A321neo aircraft on backlog.

Turkey has been a partner in all Airbus aircraft programmes, including the prestigious A350 XWB, and has thus been a substantial part of the Airbus supply chain for almost 20 years. 

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The news comes in a period of expansion in Turkish aviation infrastructure as development is underway on the ground in Istanbul. The city is going to host a new airport hub said to challenge the major international Dubai Airport. It is envisioned that the new airport hub on the Black Sea will replace the increasingly overcrowded Ataturk International which is closer to the city centre.

Upon its completion, the new airport in Istanbul will have the world’s largest terminal under one roof with a gross floor area of nearly 1 square kilometre. It is anticipated that the new hub will serve 200 million passengers annually; double that of what the world's current busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the US, currently serves.

With the Turkish government holding 49.12% ownership of Turkish Airlines, the purchase of the new aircraft can in this context be seen as being part of the broader strategy to modernise, and elevate, Turkish aviation and aviation infrastructure.