Turkish Air Numbers Up As Sell-off Readied

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Published: February 16, 2011

Turkish Airlines, Europe’s fourth-biggest airline, said passenger numbers rose 6.3 percent to 2.1 million in January, the fourth consecutive month that growth slowed.

The load factor fell 1.5 percentage points to 67.3 percent last month.

Freight rose 23 percent to 26.1 tonnes in January.

The Istanbul-based airline, in which the state has a 49 percent stake, has added new destinations and expanded its fleet to grab market share from European and Middle Eastern rivals.

The company is targeting 20 percent passenger growth this year, up from 16 percent in 2010 when 29.1 million people flew with Turkish Airlines.

“Despite the further slowdown in the pace of passenger growth in January, we believe that the company will better utilise its fleet while flying to new destinations in the rest of 2011,” said Cemal Demirtas, a senior analyst at Oyak Securities.

Separately, companies hoping to win a tender to advise the Privatisation Administration (OIB) on a strategy for selling the government’s stake in Turkish Airlines will submit bids on Tuesday, an OIB official said.

BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Merrill Lynch, UniCredit and UBS, along with Turkish partners, applied for the tender, the OIB said last month.

The state’s stake is worth about USD$ 3.2 billion, based on the current share price. It was unclear how much of the stake Turkey will sell or when it might. Officials said previously the government is considering an additional public offering.

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