Turkey’s Troubled Airline: What Happened To AtlasGlobal?

Istanbul-based AtlasGlobal operated a variety of domestic and international flights to and from Turkey for nearly two decades. Formed in 2001, the airline eventually ceased operations in February 2020, having temporarily suspended its operations several times in the months beforehand. Let’s take a look back at the story of AtlasGlobal.

AtlasGlobal Airbus A320
Most of AtlasGlobal’s aircraft belonged to the Airbus A320 family. Photo: Lars Steffens via Flickr

Starting off as Atlasjet

While AtlasGlobal was the airline’s identity at the time of its demise, it spent most of its life under a different brand. Indeed, when the Turkish carrier came into existence in 2001, it did so with the name Atlasjet International Airways. According to ch-aviation.com, it later shortened this name to Atlasjet Airlines in 2004.

Atlasjet assumed its final identity as AtlasGlobal in 2015. By this time, it had supplemented its scheduled and charter services to and from Turkey by adding pilgrimage flights. It contracted the US’s Ryan International Airlines to operate these services to Medina and Tel Aviv. Istanbul was Atlasglobal’s primary hub, although it also had a base in Antalya.

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AtlasGlobal Airbus A330
AtlasGlobal even operated widebodies in the form of the Airbus A330. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Which aircraft did AtlasGlobal fly?

AtlasGlobal’s route network of both scheduled and charter destinations boasted considerable diversity. Utilizing Turkey’s location on the boundary of Europe and Asia, its network ranged from Amsterdam, London, and Paris in the west to Baghdad and Tehran in the east. Correspondingly, the airline also operated a rather diverse fleet.

Data from ch-aviation shows that a total of 56 aircraft graced the Atlasjet and AtlasGlobal fleet over the years. The Airbus A320 family was a dominant force at AtlasGlobal, accounting for 37 aircraft altogether. This figure consisted of three A319s, 16 A320s, and 18 A321s. Airbus also had widebody representation in the form of six A330-200s.

Moving away from Airbus, the only Boeing aircraft that ch-aviation lists as having been operated by AtlasGlobal is the 757-200 (eight examples). The Bombardier CRJ family also had a role at the airline, and AtlasGlobal flew two CRJ700s and three CRJ900s. These 56 planes aside, 2007 also saw the carrier briefly lease the McDonnell Douglas MD-83.

Update: A reader has also pointed out, that Atlas Global also used to operate a couple of Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

AtlasGlobal Airbus A321
The A321 was AtlasGlobal’s most numerous Airbus model. Photo: Marvin Mutz via Flickr

The end of the line

Sadly, AtlasGlobal’s final few months of operations were marked by numerous severe financial struggles. These problems first arose in November 2019, when economic difficulties forced AtlasGlobal to temporarily suspend its operations for the first time. 26 days later, and just in time for Christmas, the airline was back in the skies.

However, this return to action unfortunately didn’t last long for AtlasGlobal. Indeed, just a month later, in January 2020, the struggling airline ceased flying once again. At the time, it expected to recommence operations on February 9th that year. By then, AtlasGlobal had already returned its remaining two Airbus A330s to their lessors.

However, just three days after AtlasGlobal’s second planned return to the skies, February 12th saw it file for bankruptcy. The airline told staff not to come to work, and it suspended ticket sales for future flights. This was the final nail in the coffin for the troubled Turkish carrier, and it was among the first of the many airlines to cease operations last year.

What are your memories of AtlasGlobal? Did you ever fly with the airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.