Where Will Turkish Airlines Fly Its Airbus A350 Aircraft?

After a six month delay, Turkish Airlines finally took delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 last week. The question on everybody’s mind is where it will fly to first? Thanks to the aviation website Routesonline.com we now know that it will be used on domestic routes first before being deployed on long-haul flights.

Turkish Airlines A350 delivery
The A350 has arrived. Photo: Turkish Airlines

The reason airlines put new aircraft on short-haul routes first is for crew familiarization. British Airways did the same thing when it received its first Airbus A350, deploying it on a 2hr 25min hop to Madrid and back. For British Airways, Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport (MAD) was the ideal route as IAG sister airline Iberia was already experienced in A350 operations.

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What domestic routes will it fly?

The Turkish Airlines Airbus A350-900 with the registration code TC-LGA will fly between Istanbul and Ankara, starting from October 28 through November 20. The flight number for the A350 flight is TK2146/2147. The A350 is also scheduled to operate as flight number TK2170/2171 between November 5 and November 10.

When performing the Istanbul to Antalya route, the flight number is TK2424/2425 starting November 1 through November 14. The A350 is also scheduled as flight number TK2414/2415 from November 5 to November 10.

Despite the current COVID-19 restrictions that saw a subdued welcome at Istanbul Airport (IST) in the early hours of Thursday morning, the airline is excited about its new arrival.

The A350 will be put on prestige routes

Turkish A350 routes
Possible Turkish Airlines A350 routes. Image: GCmaps

Once crew familiarization flights are complete, Turkish Airlines wants to integrate its flagship aircraft on routes that best suit its global hub at Istanbul Airport. The first two routes will be Istanbul to London Heathrow (LHR) and Istanbul to Dubai International Airport (DXB).

Following this will be Istanbul to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and then Istanbul to Incheon International Airport (ICN) Seoul, South Korea.

Foreign pilots to be given unpaid leave

In other Turkish Airlines news, International news wire service Bloomberg reports that the airline plans to put its foreign pilots on unpaid leave. According to company emails seen by Bloomberg, the decision was made to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its finances.

The Turkish national flag carrier informed some of its foreign employees by email, telling them that their leave would start on November 1 and then be reviewed after six months. The company emails made no mention of how many pilots would be affected or if the leave also involved Turkish nationals.

Turkish Airlines tail
Turkish Airlines’ foreign pilots could soon be on unpaid leave. Photo: Getty Images

Like every airline globally, Turkish Airlines has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with passenger numbers down by almost two-thirds compared to 2019. So far, Turkish Airlines has not laid off any workers or asked the government for financial aid, but it has halved the pilot’s wages and cut salaries for other employees.

In this modern age, you would think that all workers, regardless of their nationality, would be treated equally. Indeed last in first out would have been a fairer way to decide who has to go on unpaid leave. However, in Turkish Airlines’ defense, they are under pressure from the unions and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government to put Turkish workers’ well-being first.

While it is excellent news about the A350, if laying off foreign pilots first does happen, it will only generate negative news for Turkish Airlines.

Are you looking forward to flying on Turkish Airlines’ new A350? Please tell us about that and what you think about the unpaid leave in the comments.

*All schedules were previously published by Routesonline.com*