Turkish eyes regional jets for expansion strategy

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Published: June 1, 2012

Turkish Airlines A319. Courtesy, TK

Turkish Airlines (TK) is eyeing regional jets as an important plank in its ongoing expansion strategy (ATW Daily News, Dec. 19, 2011).

Speaking in Istanbul at the Airline Business Seminar for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, TK COO Abdullah Soner Akkurt said the airline has grown rapidly over the past decade, carrying 32.6 million passengers in 2011 compared to 10.4 million in 2003. Its fleet has nearly tripled over the same period, rising from 65 to 179, he said.

Akkurt see the potential for regional jets to open up thin, price-sensitive routes to secondary airports in Eastern Europe, and allow more frequencies than larger aircraft. A typical Istanbul-based regional jet could fly as far as Manchester in the UK, Tashkent in Uzbekistan or Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, he said.

TK’s smallest aircraft type is the 132-seat Airbus A319.

On the negative side, regional jets have smaller cargo capacity and limitations when operating into slot-constrained airports, such as TK’s Istanbul Ataturk (IST) hub, he said.

The Turkish government plans to build a new five-runway, 150 million-passenger capacity airport close to IST. The first phase is scheduled for completion in around three years (ATW Daily News, Oct. 14, 2011).

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