Turkish Airlines is considering the launch of nonstop services to Australia using either Airbus A350-1000XWB or Boeing 777X aircraft.
The airline already operates 777-300ERs, as well as A350-900s. However, Turkish Airlines chairman Ahmet Bolat told Aviation Daily on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Doha that the Star Alliance member may go for an additional version, such as the A350-1000XWB for ultra-long-range services from Istanbul to Sydney and Melbourne.
“Australia is the last continent which Turkish Airlines is not flying to,” Bolat said.
Bolat suggested the airline could fly the route with A340-500s or 777-200LRs. “But our studies show a big [financial] loss with those aircraft, especially with the current high fuel prices,” he said. Turkish does not operate A340-500s or 777-200LRs.
The carrier is also evaluating the 777X. “Whenever we make a decision on one of those aircraft, it will be the right one at the right time. Let’s see how both types develop,” Bolat said. “We don’t need to be a launch customer.”
Bolat is not comparing Turkish Airlines’ Australia nonstop services with the Project Sunrise from Qantas, which plans to operate nonstop flights from Australia to London and New York. “This [Sunrise] is a different product with less capacity,” he said. “We need more seats and we’re not going to change our business model.”
For Turkish Airlines, the nonstop flying time from Istanbul (IST) to Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) would be approximately 17 hours. Services could start in 2026 or 2027.
“We need to see the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350-1000’s proof of its maturity,” Bolat said.
In the meantime, until the ultra-long-range capacity is available, the Istanbul-based carrier already has codeshare connections to Australia. The airline is also looking for partnerships in Australia and is talking with nations like Malaysia or Indonesia for fifth freedom rights.
“If we would have that [fifth-freedom], then we could share the markets with the home carriers,” he said. “With the existing fleet we cannot do nonstop flights. We are talking with our codeshare partners, because it is more comfortable to operate Australia with the same aircraft.”
Turkish Airlines already generates an annual $40 million profit in sales in the Australian market, from passengers flying via Istanbul to its worldwide network.