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Turkish Airlines has ambitious expansion plans


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Turkish Airlines aims to almost double its aircraft fleet and hit US$24 billion in revenues by 2023, the company’s chief executive said.

It plans to increase the number of aircraft to 450 by 2023 from its current fleet of 267 aircraft.

Speaking during a presentation at Turkish Airlines head quarters in Istanbul, Temel Kotil said the company’s operating revenue was expected to grow 17 per cent this year to $11.4bn.

The Turkish carrier’s revenue last year was up 19 per cent year-on-year to $9.8bn.

However, its net profit was down 46 per cent to $357 million.

Passenger numbers are also expected to reach 60 million this year, and the airline plans to add 16 destinations.

“There are no other countries growing that much,” said Mr Kotil. “You know why we are growing? Because we are between Europe and the Middle East, between Europe and Africa and Europe and Asia.”

The airline plans to capitalise on its strategic location, especially with the opening of Istanbul’s new airport by the beginning of 2019.

With $35bn of investments, the new airport will have six runways, 500 aircraft parking spots and the capacity to accommodate 150 million passengers.

“The new airport is coming. It will be the largest on earth, with 150 million passenger capacity. It’s about 8,000 hectares. It’s seven times bigger than [the current] airport,” said Mr Kotil. “Infrastructure is under control and there’s no problem there.”

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus expects the aviation industry to shift its hubs for connecting passengers to the east, especially for cities such as Istanbul, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Like Istanbul, those cities are also upping their game by building new airports to accommodate an expected influx of passengers.

Dubai has built its second Airport, Al Maktoum at Dubai World Central, which is expected to take millions of passengers as Expo 2020 approaches. Abu Dhabi too is building its Midfield Terminal, which will be operational in 2017.

And Qatar will open the new Hamad International Airport this year, after a series of delays.

Mr Kotil said he predicts revenue growth from the Middle East of between 15 to 20 per cent for the Turkish carrier.

Turkish Airlines flies to 23 destination in the Middle East and plans to add two new destinations this year.

Asked about competition from Arabian Gulf carriers – namely Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad – Mr Kotil said that Turkish Airlines mainly focuses on its own progress.

“We are now 2 per cent in [terms of] worldwide market share and we will become 4 per cent by all means. We compete against ourselves. The competition is internally. We fly everywhere and wait for the results.”

Turkish Airlines, part of the Star Alliance, has signed a code-share agreement with Singapore Airlines effective from May 1. The deal will connect Singapore Airlines to destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It will also connect Turkish Airlines to South-east Asia and the South-west Pacific.



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