While the carrier will take delivery of its first A350-900, Turkish Airlines is reportedly still in talks with Airbus about deferral of the rest of the order. The manufacturer has yet to deliver the remaining 24 aircraft.
Will take delivery of the first
As reported by CH-Aviation, Turkish Airlines’ Chairman İlker Aycı told reporters that the carrier would take delivery of its first A350-900, first spotted in Toulouse late last year. However, he said that the airline is still negotiating with Airbus about when the remaining 24 on order will be delivered.
The first, nearly completed, A350-900, registered as TC-LPA, was originally intended to enter the airline’s service this month. It took its maiden voyage in March this year, less than a month before Turkey suspended all commercial air travel. Another six have been assigned, but are still far from completion.
Turkish Airlines’ order book with Airbus is extensive. In addition to the 25 A350s, it is down for 75 A321-200neos. It is also expecting 54 737-8s and nine 737-9s from Boeing.
No changes to narrowbodies
Chairman Aycı stated that the airline is not considering delaying the delivery of any of its narrowbody jets on order. Meanwhile, it is also in talks with Boeing regarding the schedule for its new 787-9 Dreamliners. The carrier has 14 of the widebody on firm order, in addition to the 11 it already operates.
However, as demand has increased significantly for the airline’s cargo branch during the pandemic, it is exploring a potential expansion of its freighter fleet. Turkish Cargo has risen to fifth place in the world of freight carriers. It currently operates a mixed Airbus and Boeing cargo fleet of 23 aircraft. Five of these are on lease.
Pandemic impact could last five years
The Istanbul-based airline commenced limited domestic services on June 1st, flying daily to Izmir, Antalya, Ankara Esenboga, and Trabzon from Istanbul Airport. No free in-flight food or drinks are offered on flights less than two hours. Turkish hopes to increase domestic capacity to 60% of flights in June.
Limited international services will resume on June 10th. Aycı believes that the impact of coronavirus could last up to five years and that it could take a while to reach 2019 load-factors. He deems the much-debated practice of leaving the middle-seat empty as “inapplicable and unsustainable,” according to Turkish daily Hurriyet.
“Flying with occupancy rates between 60 and 66 would seriously affect the health of a company,” said Aycı. He also hinted that ticket prices could be much higher in the time to come, saying that flying with pre-corona prices would severely damage the airline’s financial health.
The Chairman also said that Turkish is negotiating with labor unions to lower wages of some senior employees so that it could retain as many staff as possible, at least until the end of the year.